New partnership between GGF and The Fuelcard People

PrintThe Fuelcard People is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Glass & Glazing Federation (GGF).

 Following a successful meeting between representatives from the GGF and two of our top sales members, Matthew Booth and Louis Jackson, the GGF and The Fuelcard People are now looking forward to providing mutual benefits and support in the coming years.

 Helping to provide fuel cards for GGF members in the years ahead, the partnership will open up new opportunities for the organisation, ensuring its members can access a nationwide network of filling stations to refuel without the need to carry large amounts of cash or to dip into their own pockets.

 Enabling members to save both time and money is a key benefit that will be offered to all fuel card holders, with the opportunity to save up to 5p per litre on petrol and diesel against average national prices, and up to 10p per litre on motorways.

 It also means less time spent on paperwork, organising receipts and reclaiming VAT, as these processes can be fully automated for all fuel card holders.

 To find out more, please visit the official The Fuelcard People and GGF partnership page here.

DfT sustainability committee misses opportunity

Westminster Bridge at sunset, London, UK

Members should view the Environmental Audit Committee’s new report on, ‘Sustainability in the Department for Transport,” with caution. The report is seriously flawed, according to The Fuelcard People. Steve Clarke, group marketing manager, said: “The select committee made some good long-term suggestions, but has missed an opportunity. It could have recommended action that would bring immediate benefits for members’ fleet sustainability. In particular, it could have urged the introduction of measures compelling fleets to monitor and record emissions.”

The committee offered conclusions and recommendations in the areas of government policy and policy making, governance and operations.

Steve Clarke said: “The focus on ultra-low emission vehicles ignores the reality of current technology and infrastructure. Vehicle acquisition cost, in particular, is a deterrent for members. Government should promote ULEVs, but recognising that widespread adoption remains a long-term prospect. Meanwhile, diesel and petrol vehicles will dominate members’ fleets for years to come. Government could achieve widespread, immediate impact with mandatory emissions monitoring.”

The select committee noted that, “emissions have increased for the past two years running.” Although it then recommended that the DfT, “set out in the Government’s forthcoming carbon reduction plan how it intends to deal with this,” it suggested no particular actions.

“What gets measured, gets managed,” said Steve Clarke. “Requiring fleets to record and track their emissions has to be the first step in getting them to implement reduction programmes. Thousands of members’ fleets have already seen the sense of this, but many more will require encouragement in the form of regulation.”

Steve Clarke is particularly well positioned to comment upon issues of sustainability and transport. He led Fuel Card Services in pioneering efforts that resulted in the company becoming an official partner of Cool Earth, the leading environmental charity. Five years on, FCS remains the only organisation from the automotive sector to have achieved this. It continues to support Cool Earth’s world-renowned sustainability projects through donating part of its revenue from CO2Count, its leading emissions monitoring service.

What does Brexit mean for fleet managers?

Summary

The UK is to leave the EU at some future point, no earlier than late 2018, but there are actions that fleet managers should carry out now. These apply to fleets of all sizes and types.

The key areas for action are fuel, vehicle procurement and driver training.

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Fuel – Action point – Review how you purchase your diesel and petrol, against the whole market, find the right fuel card to ensure maximum savings on pump prices.

Rationale – The drop in the value of sterling will affect fuel costs in the short term, with a rise of 2p per litre likely. The exchange rate, however, is not the only factor – or even the major factor – influencing pump prices. Although the Chancellor threatened an immediate ‘emergency budget’ to include increased fuel duty, it is unlikely to happen. This is now widely viewed as having been a scare tactic to boost the ‘Remain’ vote and, in any case, at least 65 of his own MPs are committed to joining the opposition to block such a measure. If Osborne remains in Number 11 until November, which is far from certain, fuel duty may be addressed in the next Autumn Statement.

Vehicles – Action point – Business as usual, but broaden acquisition and financing options for better savings.

Rationale – Sterling is down, but will recover as the Bank of England acts to protect a fundamentally strong economy. This could include further lowering of interest rates, making financing deals more attractive. Nothing will change immediately and, in the long term, vehicle manufacturers will exert strong leverage against the imposition of import tariffs. Broadening vehicle procurement and financing options makes economic sense. A discount of 17% to 18% on list prices should be routinely available for most cars and vans.

Legislation – Action point – Business as usual, but review duty of care liability and driver awareness of road law.

Rationale – There will be no instant changes to legislation and standards. Most UK law originally driven from the EU will remain in place, with no amendments until 2019 at the very earliest. Meanwhile, ensure that the organisation has its duty of care exposures fully covered. Alongside this, confirm levels of road law awareness throughout the driver pool. Typical fleet findings are that 1/3 of drivers will need remedial training, so check and implement necessary measures.

Recruitment – Action point – Business as usual. There is no reason to delay filling current vacancies.

Rationale – Assuming that new hires are only implemented when needed by the business, delaying will do more harm than good. Changes to employment legislation, pension rules, right-to-work status and other considerations are years away, if they are going to happen at all, and there is no likelihood that anyone hired today will become ineligible for employment in the foreseeable future.

Investment – Action point – Pause, but not for long, and watch for lower borrowing costs. Then, business as usual.

RationaleMarkets are volatile and the economy in temporary flux, representing inevitable reaction to change. Counter-recessionary measures by the Bank of England may include slightly reduced interest rates, but borrowing is already relatively cheap. The UK still has the world’s fifth largest economy and it remains stronger than most. History shows that the organisations who best survive troubled times are those who continue to invest.

 

Note:  The above advice represents my opinion. Fleet managers should always seek professional advice if unsure of any action.

June 21st, the longest delay

stonehengeJune 21st, traditionally the longest day, will be a good day for members to avoid the roads in parts of the West Country. So says Steve Clarke, group marketing manager of The Fuelcard People. He said, “The Summer Solstice always means tens of thousands of visitors to Stonehenge. This year, it is immediately followed by the Glastonbury Festival, with at least 135,000 people all heading towards Pilton at the same time.”

This year’s Solstice begins at 23:34 on Monday, June 20th, varying slightly according to location. “Whatever the actual time,” said Steve Clarke, “there are always celebrations on the 21st and thousands will be making their way to Stonehenge during the day before. Any member needing to travel through the area during that Monday would be well advised to avoid the relevant sections of the A303, A344, A360 and B3086. It is worth remembering that people could be arriving, and leaving Stonehenge to head home, at any time. There are unlikely to be any quiet periods during the day.”

The traffic problems are expected to be worse than usual, with the Glastonbury Festival 2016 beginning on June 22nd. There are usually a few days separating the events, easing the strain on the roads. This year, it would not be surprising for many of the Stonehenge visitors then to head for the Festival.

“From Stonehenge to Pilton is just over 40 miles,” said Steve Clarke, “but nobody should expect to cover the distance in an hour on June 21st, as would normally be possible. Members having no choice but to take that A303, B3081, A371, A361 route can anticipate being part of a slow-moving convoy. It will be of little consolation that all human life will be represented, from druids and new age travellers to children and pensioners.”

Glastonbury visitors will be arriving from throughout the UK and the wider world, with long delays predicted for every route that leads to the small Somerset village. “Many festival-goers will use public transport,” Steve Clarke said, “but the challenge of carrying camping gear on trains and buses means that the roads will still be full. In the immediate vicinity, this means the A37, A39m A303 and A361, but the effect of congestion will be felt out into the M3, M4, M5, M40 and their feeder roads. We would advise any member unable to avoid the area to take plenty of water and snacks for what could be a long, frustrating journey.”

He said, “If your ambitions include watching a Solstice sun rise over a prehistoric monument, followed by a choice of shows by performers from Adele to the New Mortal Orchestra, all roads lead to the West Country in late June. For everyone else, these could be the roads to nowhere – and, no, David Byrne is not in the line-up.”

Prescription drugs warning for drivers

drug pill and capsule of antibiotics in blister packaging

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has issued a response to the latest data showing a significant increase in drug-driving prosecutions across the UK.

Official government figures published this month have shown that drug-driving prosecutions reached an all-time high last year, following the introduction of new laws regarding roadside testing for suspected inebriated motorists in March 2015.

Overall, a 144 per cent increase in prosecutions was witnessed last year and the FTA is therefore keen to highlight the dangers to all road users of this irresponsible behaviour.

However, it is not simply illegal drugs that impact the ability of individuals to drive safely, with the legal limit for eight prescription drugs also added to legislation relating to drug-driving offences.

All fleet operators and drivers must therefore be aware of the potential implications of failing to monitor their use of prescription medications, as even over-the-counter treatments like hay fever tablets could potentially cause an individual’s driving ability to be impaired.

The FTA is therefore calling for all its members and for businesses up and down the country to ensure all staff are aware of the dangers of prescription drugs for those that are in charge of a vehicle.

A new poster has been created by the organisation to this effect, including details of legal limits, methods and timescale for drug detection and advice on the use of prescription drugs in the workplace.

Driverless car trials to come to UK

imageHighways England is set to embark on new trials of driverless and wirelessly connected cars as part of an ongoing push towards increased innovation within the UK transport sector.

The government hopes to see a major advance in these important technologies in the years ahead and the creation of a new connected corridor of ‘wi-fi road’ will be an excellent start to these efforts in the months ahead.

First announced in the chancellor’s Budget earlier this year, the technology involved in making driverless cars a reality is being tested right now and will be implemented at a range of sites up and down the country in the coming year.

It is hoped that by trialling new radar technology on motorways and in tunnels across the UK, the project could soon lead to a better understanding of how these systems could enhance transport options for future travellers.

Roads minister Andrew Jones commented: “A more reliable road network is good news for motorists and good news for the economy.

“Quicker, safer roads will improve access to jobs and opportunities. Placing Britain at the forefront of innovation and research in this area will also create more jobs and investment.”

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan added that the body aims to implement trials of better connected and autonomous vehicles on the nation’s motorways by the end of next year.

Sites that have already been earmarked for technology trials include the Hindhead Tunnel in Surrey, as well as sections of the A2/M2 between London and Kent.

A welcome Budget for UK small firms

budgetSmall businesses up and down the country will have been waiting with baited breath for the result of this year’s Budget announcement and many will now be pleasantly surprised by what they heard.
Chancellor George Osborne took the opportunity of his annual address to the assembled parliament as a platform for calling out to the nation’s small business leaders and showing his support for their efforts in helping to drive the economic recovery.
While headline news may have been the doubling of the Small Business Rates Relief – which will help to boost the finances of more than 600,000 UK small firms – other positive measures included:
• Corporation tax cut to 17 per cent from 2020.
• Fuel duty frozen at its current level for the sixth consecutive year.
• Increased spending on infrastructure (HS3 and roads).
• Devolution of powers for local authorities to drive growth in their area.
• An additional £700 million to be spent on flood defences to protect communities and companies across the UK.
Overall, there has been plenty of good news for the nation’s small businesses this year.
Responding to the Budget, policy director at the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry stated that many of these changes have long been campaigned for and it is a great pleasure to see these efforts now bearing fruit.
He concluded: “In a Budget constrained by both the need to reduce the deficit and the economic outlook, the chancellor has listened to our calls for the tax system to be made simpler for small businesses and the self-employed, and taken important action on business rates.”

You have to love it

Heart alternativeIt’s that time of year again, and we are not talking about Pancake Day or Chinese New Year – but happy Year of the Monkey, anyway. Within any business, workers do physically whatever it takes to turn out the products or services. Other staff have the job of managing this. There may be, within the company, the people who own the business. They all share a common objective. Whatever your role, part of the job is to keep everyone else happy, including customers and suppliers.

So, spread a little love around the place. Put a smile on everyone’s face, then work to keep it there. Just don’t try to do this by sending everybody Valentine’s cards. At best, you’ll be in for some gentle social media mocking. At worst, you could be reaching for your lawyer and trying to fend off unfriendly journalists.

This is not just about the well-established fact that a happy worker is much more productive than one who resents the boss. It is far more simple than that. Who do you want to be around, a miserable colleague or one who has just received an unexpected perk? Would you rather have your customers dealing with a cheerful colleague, or one who dislikes their job?

You might not be able to arrange for universal happiness, of course. So, just do what you can. If you only have dealings with customer service personnel, do something to brighten their days. Or, if you only deal with the number-crunchers, spread a little joy around the accounts department. The very easiest folks to cheer up, though, will be anyone who drives for you. Imagine a situation where, every time one of your drivers stops to refuel, they gain a real personal benefit at the same time. This would not just be a Valentine’s Day gesture, but would carry on throughout the year.

It might sound far-fetched, but is actually incredibly easy to implement. Even better, the drivers would not be alone in benefiting. You would also feel the love, in the form of lower fuel costs, reduced administration and more.

 

It’s all about priorities

Old green bus

When it comes to running any kind of business, doing the actual work can be the least challenging part. The company was created, after all, because the founder knew about plumbing, catering, transport or whatever else it does. In any kind of organisation, the lack of bottomless resources usually means that the tough bit is making choices.

With the most limited resources normally being time and money, it comes down to a question of priorities. Which tasks are important, which are urgent, which are both or neither? Part of the challenge is that obvious solutions are few and far between. Often, the ‘right’ choice – if there actually is one – will only become clear some time after a decision is made. For a member of a trade body, luckily, there will be peers who may be able to help.

Maybe politicians should have a trade association. They certainly seem to need help from somebody when it comes to sorting out their priorities. They do have endless conflicting demands upon their – our – resources, to be fair, but some of their choices can seem a little puzzling.

Right now, our government has to allocate resources to the NHS, migration issues and countless other things. Many of these are issues of extreme national importance and many need to be addressed urgently. The folks in Downing Street have no ‘spare’ money, so we have to assume that any investment decision must be based upon pressing, critical need.

With no criticism intended, perhaps one might question just how politicians assess priorities. Right now, the Chancellor has decided, is the right time to spend our taxes on giving millions in grants to bus companies, so that they can upgrade a few vehicles that already meet every legal standard. You couldn’t make it up.

Read more about it, here: http://ow.ly/XuPxN.

It’s a brand new year…

BlogJanuary is here, a time for looking back over the previous 12 months and forward to the year ahead. For members managing vehicles, current forecourt prices could prompt reminiscence about the cost of refuelling. Petrol and diesel costs have been dropping for months, through levels not seen since 2009, and this can only be welcomed.

The turn of the year, though, is traditionally a time to spare a few thoughts for the less fortunate.

For some, falling fuel prices are anything but good news. Some of the really big users still do things the old way, with bunkering or their own tank in the yard. This means that they are used to placing a very large order and playing a low price because of the bulk purchase. Now, they have to part with a huge sum up front, then see their bulk price beaten on the forecourts, almost before their drivers take off the filler caps. They just have to grit their teeth and take the pain.

At least such people realise that they are suffering. Some other folks think that they are benefiting from falling prices, not understanding that they could be faring even better. Worst afflicted are those who, in all good faith and innocence, have chosen the wrong fuel cards. Day after day, they assume blithely that they are making savings, not understanding the awful reality. Some members might be surprised initially by the reason for this, but would find themselves nodding in rueful recognition.

At this time of hope and optimism for the year ahead, remember that there are others, with less reason for good cheer. Be charitable. If you know of a member who has yet to find the right fuel card, point them in the right direction.

Read more about falling prices here: http://ow.ly/WBmtc