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ACFO sets out fleet guidance for 2010

Date: 06 January 2010

"There's a fine balance between the company's need to save money and the need to attract and retain good staff," says Julie Jenner, ACFO

ACFO chairman Julie Jenner has urged business car managers to stick to their cost-focused ideals created in the recession for the year ahead.

"Cost management was the key phrase for fleet decision-makers in 2009 and amid the green shoots I hope the dawn of a New Year is not marked by a reversal of policy," said Jenner.

She added that as the UK emerges from recession through 2010 and into 2011 that companies will remain true to the cost-cutting, low emissions, risk averse measures they have introduced and not return to the corporate excesses of yesteryear.

However, Jenner also predicted the number of company cars would increase in the next few years.

"Fleet replacement cycle extensions in the early part of 2009 also played their role in helping companies cut costs, but I detect now that with the emergence from the deepest economic gloom new car buying and leasing is returning.

"I think 2010 will herald the return of the company car in increasing numbers, particularly as motor manufacturers introduce 'cleaner and greener', fuel-sipping models.

"Contributing to that swing will be a trend for more employers to consider introducing salary sacrifice schemes as part of their employee benefits packages. With manufacturers introducing an ever-widening choice of low emission (sub-120g/km) cars, the option of an environmentally-friendly company car as a tax-saving benefit over salary is likely to appeal to many employees as firms look to bill themselves as the 'employer of choice'.

Concluding her outlook for the next 12 months, Jenner added: "I would hope that in 2010, the Government - the existing one or the new one - clarifies the company car tax strategy for 2012 and beyond to allow businesses to implement timely policy changes that ensure stability and are not left in limbo and then forced to react in haste.

"Fleet operators should also be mindful that new 'taxes' - workplace parking levies, congestion charging - are on the near horizon. Likely to be implemented by local authorities as opposed to central government they, nevertheless, will impact on businesses.

"Today fleet operators are not just concerned with company car choice lists and SMR costs, all manner of travel-related issues land on their desks. The implementation of new 'taxes' will impact on company costs and fleet operators should keep an eagle-eye on developments."