Private mileage 'hurting British business'

Motor industry organisations are lining up with the UK's Office of Government Commerce (OGC) to target the "grey fleet" - the practice of using private cars for business purposes - which they say exposes employers to safety, cost and legal risks.

The latest figures on the subject, released by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, show that more than one in three workers (35 per cent) use their own car for business purposes, making it the most common form of business transport. In the same survey, 44 per cent of employers reported that private vehicles were the primary form of transport used in their business.

In an earlier report, the OGC cited evidence that the grey fleet makes up around 57 per cent of total road mileage used by the UK public sector. It estimated that reducing public sector grey fleet mileage by 1,000,000 miles could save around £250,000 and reduce CO2 emissions by over 240 tonnes.

"The grey fleet has been on the radar of employers for some time, but these figures reveal the true extent of the problem," said Rob Ingram, director of business rental at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "Despite significant effort in many quarters, grey fleet vehicles remain the number one form of business transport in the UK. Its scale has magnified the problem it presents for employers.

"It's become a culture for large numbers of employees. It's now second nature for many to use their own cars for work, and employers haven't been able to force a change in their attitudes.

"Unless employers look seriously at other options and start moving people out of the grey fleet, businesses will continue to pay the bill for an outdated form of business transport. The cost implications alone should be motivation enough for organisations to take the issue seriously."

Organisations campaigning against the grey fleet point out the legal risks if drivers lack suitable insurance for driving on business or if vehicles are unfit. They add that options such as rental or public transport may well be more cost effective for mid to long journeys, and that grey fleet vehicles are often older than company cars, with higher CO2 emissions.

The OGC said it will showcase its best-practice toolkits and online support at the first ever national conference on managing the grey fleet in the public sector on 25th November, and during a series of regional road shows and sector specific workshops. It has also published two new information pamphlets, Grey fleet: Improving your carbon, cost and care and Grey fleet: Is your organisation safe from prosecution? to further raise the awareness of the support available.

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