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FDS Cars

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Having had a catch up chat with @Percy the other day, we got onto the subject of FDS Cars. In GMFRS FDS Officers supply their own cars and claim the mileage at around 50p a mile. They also get around £1200 a year for being on that scheme. However, many other FRS's allow their officers to purchase cars dependant upon rank and tax bracket etc. Some FRS's supply cars for their FDS staff, such as Surrey who give the FDS BMW X3s (Very Nice).

What do other FRS's offer in the way of FDS cars? 

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WMFS is the same as you Carl and so all FDS are on the essential users scheme.  The only exception actually is us in FIT.  We each have our own marked up van that is classed as a pool vehicle, although in reality they are solely ours.  We have them as we respond from home at night and weekends. We successfully argued that essential users wasn’t suitable due to firstly the amount of kit but secondly and more importantly having contaminated kit in our own cars. 

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H&W all FDS officers are given a vehicle for work, the majority are Freelanders with lightbars but theres a few Discovery sports that are replacing them. Prior to those there were Skoda Octavias

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We in Herts mainly have either Hyundai Tucsons  (I have one in aqua blue) or Volvo V90's and a few Toyota Avensis still hanging around. I claim 11p per mile but all my servicing, tyres and insurance etc are paid for by the Brigade

We are having absolute dramas at the moment regarding the lease scheme we are currently on due to the new tax implications. We are looking at following either the LFB model, the Norfolk model or Scottish model, any advice on any of those schemes would be very welcome?


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London Officers get a choice, you can provide your own car under similar arrangements to GMFRS, 45-50p per mile plus £1200 per year or so. The other option is a lease scheme where the LFB pays the first £450 a month or so and you pay the rest, and get only 11-13p per mile to cover cost of fuel. You then get taxed on that £450 as if it was a cash benefit. Until recently you only got taxed on the percentage of that amount that the car was used for personal miles, but now HMRC have changed the rules to make it so that you are now taxed on the entire a,pint.

That’s  hit officers like me who live in London and who do high amounts of business mileage pretty hard, which is frustrating as the change came one year into a 3 year lease for me, and I’d probably have considered providing my own car instead. But hey ho!

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I started off in 2004 on the essential scheme, where I provided my own car. It could have easily been cost neutral, but I had quite a new upmarket car at the time, so it owed me a few quid every month especially as the car was a Petrol Turbo. I then changed to a diesel which helped, but even with payment at a higher rate for business and then commuting miles, the lease was still a no brainer.

So, in 2006, I opted for the lease, at the time I was paying a whopping £280 per month for a 5 series BMW. I was a bit naive, I went for solid black with cloth seats and no extras.... (The Hearse as one of our formers members on here called it). It transpires, leather & metallic paint would have made it more attractive for resale so the cost would have been lower. (The reason why as I always have to rant, Officers go for upmarket cars much to the anger of troops on the Stations, for example an XE Jag is cheaper per month than a Mondeo or Passat).

Anyway, I digress. At the time, I was paying £280, plus my fuel but getting around £150 back in mileage plus no tax liability as commuting mileage was taxed at source, business mileage was tax free. The payment rate was about 20p per mile then. I was probably doing around £100 in fuel (work and personal). So I had a new car all in for £230 per month.

Before the 2008 credit crunch (which was apparently our fault seeing as we are still having our pay held back) the mileage had gone up to about 25p per mile, for business and commuting. When the wheels fell off in the economy, things got tighter. The two Unions, unfortunately with reps who at the time were close to retirement or looking at their own bigger picture came up for a comedy settlement, where we say goodbye to ‘home to office’ mileage for ever, with a one off payment of around £1500 (maybe a bit less). Oh how we were delighted, but were told “It’s that or nothing”… by our RB’s!!

The lease allowance was balanced out, so SM’s then got the same allowance as GM’s and the total was upped to around £4900 per year. SO if you wanted a Focus, you would probably get it for free, if you wanted something decent it was around £100 for the 3 series/A4 size and £160 for the 5 series/A6 size… depending of course what bells and whistles you wanted. Trouble was, the mileage rate had gone from 25p to 11p and with the ‘home to office’ not only no longer being paid, but also not showing on the annual P11d, it looked like the majority of use was personal. 80% in my case where my genuine personal mileage was about 20%. S0 we started getting a tax bill for that of around £1200 per year.

So yes, the car were cheaper, but in 2010, my BMW 5er, which was now under £200 was getting a stealth tax of around £100 per month, plus I was only getting around £15 per month in mileage opposed to £150. Arguably, if you lived near your workplace, or never used the car off duty, you could lose the tax and of course the £15 per month was nearer your fuel bill for business miles only (if you managed to keep the car on or above 40mpg for all journeys).

Roll on to 2018 and it’s now a punishment to have a lease car. I’ve now got a Volvo XC60, not a great car, but reasonable at £130 per month. The most recent nugget from HMRC is no matter how much or little mileage you do and whatever the ratio between personal/commuting/business you will get a flat rate annual tax of just under £2000. SO I pay £130 for the car, about £160 in tax plus about £80 in fuel (because I move around in it as little as possible in these last few months in my career. As you can see, that’s about £370 per month now. Probably not an eye waterer when you consider that’s all in. But comparing to how it was, it’s a deal breaker for me. Especially with the CO restrictions which are getting ever tighter and the promise by colleagues will have to be in zero emission vehicles by 2025 or some date beyond my give a f***

I have around 130 odd days left until I retire, I’ll back the lease car with a small penalty as I will be terminating about 4 months before the lease ends. It’s all academic for me now. But if I was staying, I’d get a low interest loan, get myself a car for about £5000 and got back on essentials. The £1200 per year still exists, as does the 45p (or so) mileage for business only, but I worked out I’d only be paying for my personal use of the car, the payments from the firm would more than cover the loan and their share of fuel/insurance etc.

Good luck, like everything else, the best of times are now history. :|

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5 hours ago, Becile said:

X3 Yes nice...apart from the markings and lights!!

I couldn’t possibly comment.

HMFRS are reviewing Emergency Service use of cars as they recognise ‘our’ case isn’t quite so straight forward as the normal company car lease schemes.

Just to add to the confusion even more, although Tax is National policy it is upto your local tax office to actually agree or not to your specific issues raised.

There are several FDS Officers in North York’s currently stating their case and trying to get a local agreement. Probably won’t get a ‘tax free’ outcome but will possibly get a sizeable reduction in the current tax calculation because as mentioned the tax rules did not take into account the relatively small variable of cars needed for both 999 and private use.

It is worth contacting your local tax office and stating your care if you’re on a Lease scheme.

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Percy, you say they're reviewing, but all their recent changes have been detrimental in nature, so I don't have a great deal of faith in any future changes they might make! The narrative being set out by our senior management at least is that they've been quite clear all along how damaging it is to view these cars as purely private vehicles, and the issue of taxing officers for attending incidents, but at present it's falling on deaf ears.

Edited by Carl
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