“Back to school” said the banners in my local supermarket, this weekend. “Back to work,” I thought…

Hot topics

“Back to school” said the banners in my local supermarket, this weekend. “Back to work,” I thought.

For most companies, the business year kicks off right after the August bank holiday. It’s a time for cooler weather and fresh ideas on dealing with upcoming hot topics.

There will be no shortage of the latter for fleet managers this autumn, as they prepare for a raft of tax changes as well as fresh assessments of risk strategy in response to the new corporate manslaughter law.

This year’s hot colours are likely to be the greens and greys of CO2-based taxation and ‘grey fleet’, rather than traditional browns and yellows.

As the Government’s green taxation agenda takes root, companies will need to assess their approach to policy and procurement. Otherwise they may find themselves caught between penalising taxes on high-emitting vehicles and unhappy drivers, who instinctively resist any change in the status quo.

The HMRC’s protracted consultation over AMAPs suggests behind-the-scenes mud wrestling in Whitehall over the outcome. That might result in a political compromise which proves to be far from neat for the fleets that have to administer a multi-tiered payment system.

Reviewing private car use and preparing to communicate changes to affected drivers will be on many fleets’ agendas in the coming months.

Private cars will also start to loom large on companies’ radar on safety grounds. With the Corporate Manslaughter Act due to come into force in April, how far can firms safely continue on drivers providing their own cars for work, especially where driving is a core part of the job?

Technology should also be included in this far-from-exhaustive list of hot topics for the new business year.

Online ordering, reporting and administration portals are certainly making many aspects of the fleet manager’s role easier. And let’s not forget the advances in vehicle technology which are making company vehicles rapidly safer, greener and more efficient to run.

On the other hand, technology does have its limits – particularly if your boss likes to take their BlackBerry with them on holiday to send back all those great new ideas that come to them on the beach!

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season.