Cycle to Work: UK government reminds disgruntled retailers scheme is 'entirely voluntary'

Department for Transport apparently unmoved as minister holds latest meeting with retailers amid growing pushback against the current terms of the scheme

Clock12:08, Monday 12th February 2024

Photo by James Newcombe on Unsplash / Photo by Tom Austin on Unsplash

Bike shop representatives met with Guy Opperman MP last week

Guy Opperman MP, the UK Government's Minister for Roads and Local Transport, met with representatives of the Association for Cycle Traders (ACT) last week at the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cycling and Walking.

Although talks are ongoing about whether the Cycle to Work scheme needs reform, the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently unmoved.

In a statement shared with GCN on Friday 9 Feb, the DfT said: "Participation in the scheme is entirely voluntary for retailers and it is for individual scheme providers to set commission fees."

Read more: Everything you need to know about the Cycle to Work scheme

Currently, over 650 businesses across the UK, most of which are independent retailers, have signed up for the ACT's Cycle to Work campaign calling for systematic change to the government-controlled discount scheme.

At present, the scheme hits independent cycle retailers with administrative costs, whilst intermediaries like Cyclescheme and Bike2Work Scheme profit.

Opperman met with Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers' Association, and Mark James, an independent retailer. The APPG heard a question from an MP who had been told by bike shops in his constituency that the scheme was not working for retailers.

Now, the ACT is encouraging members to contact their local MPs to express concerns.

Jonathan Harrison, director of ACT, said: "The more MPs that are made aware the better. Moreover, if you haven't already signed up to become part of the movement demanding change to the Cycle to Work scheme, we strongly ask you do so."

Some MPs already support change. Labour's Fabian Hamilton MP, co-chair of the Walking and Cycling APPG, told GCN the scheme "must be reformed", as in its current state, "large corporations are raking in the profits while small cycling manufacturers and shops suffer".

Although a few voices are coming out in support, the DfT does not appear to want reform. Time will tell whether the ACT campaigners can garner enough support to produce meaningful change.

For more of the latest industry updates, check our general news and tech news sections.

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