Van-tastic insights: tax, insurance & more

Everything you need to know about company van tax, insurance, and more…

If you are thinking of buying or leasing a company van or are looking to expand your fleet of vans, now is a great time to get to grips with or brush up on your understanding of company van ‘mechanics’. From taxing your vans and insuring them to ensuring you pick the right van for your requirements, there are lots of moving parts to consider.

In this guide, we’ll give you the low down on how company van tax and insurance works and will offer some key points to look out for that can help you to pick the right vehicles for your business and your drivers.

What counts as a company van?

Defining between a company car and a company van is vital to ensure that you are abiding by the right tax and insurance expectations. These fleet vehicles have different implications for businesses and HMRC has strict definitions of each which means mistakes can be expensive.

Three key criteria are usually required to be met for a vehicle to be considered a van:

  1. It is intended for the transportation of goods rather than people.
  2. It has a fully loaded weight of no more than 3,500kg.
  3. It has no windows in the load-bearing area of the vehicle.

There are some additional factors that might define a vehicle as a van, such as some larger taxi vehicles with certain goods loading capacities. If your fleet requires vehicles that aren’t clearly defined as vans by the first three criteria, then take care to fully clarify what type of fleet vehicle you are acquiring and what it means for tax and insurance.

Considerations and advantages of a company van for tax

Purchasing vans for company use can bring with it some significant savings. For example, you can reclaim the full amount of VAT on purchased commercial vehicles, which means a saving of 20% on vans bought for commercial use only.

However, there are some things to consider regarding the tax benefits of company vans that are important for both employer and employee to understand.

Company van Benefit in Kind

Are your drivers going to be using these company vans exclusively on the job, or will they be driving them for personal purposes? If the latter is the case, then your company vans might be subject to a BIK tax. It’s important that your employees are aware that the responsibility of BIK falls on them.

Cars and vans are both taxed as benefits in kind in this circumstance, though there are differences to how the tax is calculated. For information of BIK tax on company cars you can read our company car tax guide.

Company van BIK is a flat rate fee that currently stands at £3,960 per annum for 2023/24, and increase from £3,600 for the previous tax year. There are also additional leniencies that company van drivers can benefit from that company car drivers can’t, for example certain short personal errands are permissible without incurring this taxation.

Company van fuel benefit

In addition to company van benefit in kind, employees driving company vans might also be subject to fuel benefit. This applies when the employer covers the cost of fuel used for private use unless the vehicle is electric. This tax is set at £757 for 2023/34.

Electric company vans

Electric vans offer several tax saving opportunities that can help increase the viability of the shift from combustion engines to EVs. To begin, there is no road tax payable for fully electric vehicles, incentivising their uptake.

Additionally, as of 2021 electric vans qualify for 100% first year allowances, meaning that the full cost can be deducted from profits before tax. For 2022, that meant a saving of 19% against corporation tax.

How does company van insurance work?

Company van insurance or business van insurance will cover use of your van for work-related purposes, which can include commuting. The right company van insurance will also offer cover for the contents of your company van, which is essential for businesses that use these vehicles for the transportation of tools and equipment.

Like most vehicle insurance, company van insurance comes at three levels of coverage:

  • Third-party
  • Third-party, fire and theft
  • Fully comprehensive

In addition to these fundamental types of cover, there will be insurance suppliers that offer company van insurance built to fit the needs of certain business types. Taking the time to assess all options to ensure you are finding the right type for your niche could help you avoid missing the best insurance deals and get the best coverage for your requirements.

Telegence telematics

Other things to consider

If you haven’t already got vans in your vehicle fleet, there are some other things worth considering as you begin the process of acquisition.

How old do you have to be to drive a company van?

If your staff hold a full UK driving license and are over the age of 17 then they can drive a company van. Whilst businesses such as van rentals have stricter terms on who can drive vans, for businesses building their own fleet it is only required that drivers hold the appropriate license, which for driving vans can be held from age 17.

Do you need a particular license to drive a van?

The standard driver license or category B license is sufficient to drive a van up to 3,500kg max loaded weight. If you need to drive a vehicle with a higher maximum load, up to 7,500kg, you will need to pass the C1 driving test.

Telematics for your van fleet from Fuel Card Services

Starting or expanding your fleet is a great prospect for business scaling and can open a lot of doors. Make sure you can manage your vehicle fleet, whatever vehicles it is comprised of, with telematics that are built to fit.

Tele-Gence is a leading fleet telematics service that is fully flexible and buildable, meaning you can create a telematics service that is shaped round your business and fleet. With a range of additional tools such as dash cams that can be added to your service, you can send your fleet out and confidently track drivers, capture incidents, and manage fuel use effectively; tools that can be invaluable should you need to make a claim.

You can learn more about Tele-Gence here or enquire today and our team will be in touch to help you out.

Driver licence checks to ensure driver competence and legal compliance

Ensuring driver competence and legal compliance with regular licence checks

This is the fourth in a series of articles written with our partners at FleetCheck to help business owners and managers understand their legal requirements around managing staff that drive for work.

Employers have a responsibility to make appropriate checks to ensure anyone they ask to drive for work is legally able and competent to do so. It sounds obvious but many don’t.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that it’s an offence for a driver to drive without a valid licence. The Act also states that it is an offence for a person or organisation to permit a driver to drive without a valid licence. Having a robust system in place to check drivers’ licences will help prevent you hiring someone who isn’t eligible to drive for you.

The first and most obvious checks are to see if they have a valid driving licence, if they have any penalty points, and whether they are eligible to drive the class of vehicle required.

The checks will also highlight if drivers need glasses or have any other medical issues that may affect their ability to drive.

The consequence of failing to carry out driver checks

Typically, a driver will have their licence suspended if they get to 12 penalty points, however, a driver can argue in court that losing their licence would cause undue hardship and request that they be allowed to continue driving with more than 12 points.

Previous Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to the DVLA show that there are thousands of drivers in the UK driving around, quite legally, with more than 12 points on their licence.

Following one such request by MotorEasy, the DVLA provided figures (accurate as of April 2021) showing 8,237 drivers with more than 12 points and one person still driving legally with a staggering 68 penalty points on their licence!

Another FOI request, this time from IAM RoadSmart, yielded data from the DVLA (data supplied in December 2020) showing over 92,000 drivers with 9-11 penalty points – within one offence of a ban.

An example that illustrates this risk perfectly involves a man who, having racked up 54 points, convinced a judge to let him keep his licence in order to look for work as a mobile tyre fitter – work which would entail some unwitting employer entrusting him with a shiny company van and tools worth in the region of £40,000. Failure to check licences therefore leaves you open to hiring people like this.

The checks will also highlight whether drivers need glasses or have any other medical issues that may affect their ability to drive.

What should an initial driver check include?

During the initial hiring process, the first driver checks should include

  • Licence checks – penalty points
  • Eyesight and medical checks
  • Vehicle category eligibility
  • Insurance for business use (if they drive their own car for work)
  • Policy receipt and acceptance (discussed previously)
  • Induction training


Ongoing driver checks

Having made your initial driver checks to ensure your drivers are all correctly licensed and medically fit to drive, it’s important to maintain those checks over time.

For all the same reasons we don’t want to employ an unsuitable driver, we need to keep the checks up to date to make sure none slip through the net later on while they’re working for us.

Every year, tens of thousands of drivers have their licences revoked for a variety of offences, while tens of thousands more have to surrender their licence for medical reasons. Regular checks will pick these up.

Licences should be checked at least annually directly with the DVLA. Many employers check licences more regularly if drivers have accumulated points, or introduce thresholds – for example, some companies check drivers with a certain number of points, or those that driver higher mileages, on a more regular basis.

Your ongoing management of drivers should include

  • Licence Checks including penalty points, eyesight and medical checks and vehicle category eligibility
  • Receipt and acceptance of any driving for work policy updates
  • Delivery of any training requirements
  • Collision or incident record
  • Driving offences and fines
  • And also any complaints or disciplinary action taken against the driver

The point of an ongoing driver record keeping system is to ensure you do everything you need to do in order to meet your legal obligations, keep your drivers safe and protect the business in the event of an incident – and that all of these things are recorded as they happen.

This is important when communicating policy updates or where additional training is required. If your drivers are in specialist vehicles, carrying heavy loads or towing, then it provides a vital record that any additional training that was required has been successfully delivered.

It is even more important where high-risk drivers, such as those with multiple speeding offences or a poor collision record, need to be identified and action taken.

Ongoing driver management: beyond licence checks

Remember, comprehensive driver record-keeping will help you:

  • Meet your legal requirements for driver management
  • Quickly identify higher risk drivers
  • Deliver appropriate training where required
  • Ensure drivers are made aware of changes to policy
  • Reduce reputational risk to the business

If you would like more information on how to manage a safe and compliant fleet, including driver record-keeping and licence checking, check out our FleetCheck service here.

Contractor fleet fuel consumption

Fuel for thought: 4 cost-cutting tips for contractors

Whatever the nature of your work, if you’re a contractor, then you’ll be no stranger to the high costs associated with fuel consumption. From heavy machinery and tools often requiring traditional fuel sources to the commute to job locations and supplier meetings, there are plenty of factors that drive up overheads – and managing fuel consumption is a highly sought after skill within the industry.

For construction-based contract roles including plumbing and electrician work, keeping costs low can make all the difference, especially during quieter months. With fuel prices still high following the fluctuations in the crude oil market, and the possible disruption we could see later this year, it’s important that all contractors consider implementing tactics to help manage fuel consumption and costs.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important things contractors should (and may not) know about their fuel consumption, as well as offering some tips to minimise usage and costs.

Why is contractor fuel consumption so high?

Some of the biggest factors pushing up the fuel consumption of the construction industry and other similar contractor roles include:

  • The amount of fuel-dependent heavy machinery.
  • Inefficient operation of vehicles.
  • Servicing and maintenance.

Vehicle fuel consumption

Starting with the most universal consumer of fuel across contractor roles, vehicles are often a real gas-guzzler and cost-zapper whatever your area of expertise. Commuting in the UK accounts for as much as 18 billion KGs of CO2 emissions, and for contractors, the commute to jobs is also paired with commutes to supplier locations.

Compared to your average commuter who has two bookend journeys, contractors might be dotting from location to location across the day, and the fuel expenditure quickly adds up. Additionally, contractors are more likely to be driving vans and other heavier vehicles that push the daily carbon emissions up further.

Despite being a big consumer of fuel and consequently funds, vehicles are no expendable tool for contractors and as such the solution to keeping consumption and costs down need to take this into consideration.

But what can you do to mitigate your costs as a contractor? You can’t ditch the essential vehicles on which your company relies, and you can’t cut back on your journeys and risk losing business. Well, here’s exactly what you can do:

1. Optimise your routes with My Transport Planner

Cutting down on the number of trips seems like it might not be an option, but with the right tools this can be a great starting point for professionals wanting to save money and cut down on environmental impact. Route planning might already be a part of your day as a contractor, but are you doing it in the most productive way?

My Transport Planner is a route optimisation tool; what this means is that rather than just organising the routes you will be taking, they are optimised for efficiency, the knock-on effect being a saving in fuel, funds, and time.

2. Make the switch to electric

If you are looking for a more impactful change, changing your vehicle from a combustion engine to an electric could be a great long-term solution. Electric vans and larger vehicles are quickly catching up smaller EVs in terms of mileage and are becoming a more than viable alternative to traditional vans. Roomy interiors mean plenty of space for tools and equipment, so making a sustainable switch doesn’t have to mean losing out on valuable square footage.

While this can be considered a costly switch, there is the plug-in grant available for buyers in the UK offering an automatically added discount to some models of electric van to help increase accessibility. As for the implementation of charging infrastructure, there are a range of schemes and grants in place to help support with the purchase and installation of charge points both at home and at the workplace, including the Workplace Charging Scheme and The EV charge point grant.

Though the upfront cost can seem off-putting, electric vehicles can quickly start paying themselves back. The cost of charging your electric vehicle is likely to be considerably lower than the cost of refuelling with petrol or diesel, and with an electric vehicle you are better prepared to weather any fluctuations in the fuel market. For contractors, an electric vehicle could be the update needed to help build a more financially secure operational routine.

3. Improve your maintenance and servicing

Maintenance and servicing can often come as a bit of a surprise if you aren’t keeping track of your schedule as a contractor. The busy, hands-on nature of contracting work often means that the cost of vehicle upkeep can creep up, and with it the costs it entails.

The upkeep of your vehicle is closely tied to fuel consumption, and as such it is in your best interest to ensure you remain on top of the necessary servicing and maintenance of your vehicle. In fact, improper vehicle maintenance can increase fuel consumption by as much as 2-4%.

Ensuring that you are in good time with vehicle servicing and maintenance and that you deal with vehicle complications, and wear and tear quickly will help you to avoid this increase. You can effectively manage your vehicles’ servicing and maintenance schedule with tools such as MyService.Expert, and keep on top of vehicle checks with MyDriveSafe.Expert.


4. Review your construction plant and machinery

On many construction sites, the fleet of vehicles doesn’t stop with the distribution vehicles. From excavators and backhoes to cement mixers and cranes, there are a broad range of vehicles other than your traditional vans that contribute to contractor fuel consumption. Many of these pieces of essential equipment still rely heavily on diesel, making them some of the most consumptive pieces of equipment contractors are commonly using.

In order to maximise fuel efficiency of these pieces of machinery, useful measures mostly focus on site usage. Below are some tips on how you and your workforce can boost the fuel economy of heavy machinery.

Reduce idling time

Leaving your machinery idling eats through fuel, increases emission and can even decrease the longevity of your plant. Keeping machine engines turned on only for the necessary amount of time will help to prevent avoidable wear and tear, which will help them to perform efficiently for longer. Stop-start technology, if present on equipment, is helpful for this – and having a conversation with your drivers about idling could be beneficial.

Keep up with maintenance

As with your vans and cars, construction plant also needs to be regularly maintained to ensure that fuel efficiency is preserved. Preventative measures are better than dealing with issues too late, and not only will this practise help with fuel consumption but will also help you avoid paying larger costs further down the line.

Ensure your staff are fully trained

Incompetent use of equipment can mean that it is used in a more fuel consumptive manner, the costs of which will add up. Ensure that the workers operating heavy machinery are fully trained on how to use it safely and efficiently. Incorrect use of large pieces of equipment can strain their engines, causing damage and forcing them to work harder than necessary, causing an increase in fuel consumption.

Managing costs and consumption

With the fuel market in an ongoing state of flux, contractors could benefit from utilising tactics to help ensure that fuel usage is economic. Workers have no control over the cost of fuel, but you can control the way your vehicles and equipment are used to help ensure you are not paying more than necessary and are keeping emissions low.

In addition to using the software and tools discussed in this article, fleet managers could benefit from the right fuel card to help access the bests fuel prices as well as a host of benefits that could increase fleet savings. With a variety of providers to choose from and a growing range of EV charge cards too, we have a range as diverse as contractors’ fleets.

You can browse our fuel cards, or fill out an enquiry form and we will help you to find the right fuel card for your needs.

Shell site closures June 2023

Shell site closures and openings – June 2023

In June 2023, a number of sites on the Shell network will be temporarily closing. However, a handful of new Shell sites are also set to open in the following weeks. Read on to find out more!

Which Shell sites will be closing?

The following Shell site closures will take place on 5th June 2023:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Shoreham Airport | Brighton Road, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5LD | Closing 5th June for 4 weeks
  • Shell Cobham | Cobham Motorway Service Area, Between Junctions 9 & 10, M25, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3DB | Closing 5th June for 4 weeks
  • Shell Cullompton | M5 JCT28, Old Station Road, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 1NS | Closing 5th June For 8 Weeks
  • Shell Gillette Corner | 882 Great West Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5NG | Closing 5th June for 3 weeks
  • Shell Little Waitrose Thurcaston | A46/A6 Trunk Road, Birstall, Leicester, LE4 3BT | Closing 5th June for 8 weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 12th June 2023:

  • Shell Arnos Castle | St. Philips Causeway, The Spine Road, Bristol, Avon, BS4 3EX | Closing 12th June for 9 Weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 19th June 2023:

  • Shell Loughborough | 53 Belton Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1LW | Closing 19th June for 11 weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 26th June 2023:

  • Shell Balhaldie | A9 Southbound, Dunblane, Perthshire, FK15 0NB | Closing 26th June for 3 weeks

If your preferred Shell site is going to be affected by these closures, be sure to use our pump locator app to find your nearest alternative.

When will Shell sites will be reopening?

The following Shell site will be reopening on 5th June:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Blendon | 510 Blackfen Road, Sherwood Park Avenue, Kent, DA15 9NT

The following Shell sites will be reopening on 26th June:

  • Shell Cobham | Cobham Motorway Service Area, Between Junctions 9 & 10, M25, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3DB
  • Shell Gillette Corner | 882 Great West Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5NG

Finally, the following Shell sites will be reopening on 30th June:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Shoreham Airport | Brighton Road, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5LD
  • Shell Little Waitrose John Abbott | 54 Quarry Hill Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 2SA
  • Shell Budgens Boship | Boship Roundabout, Lower Dicker, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 4DP

Keep your fleet moving with a Shell fuel card

Whatever the size of your business, we’ve got the perfect Shell fuel card for you. With variable pricing options to meet your needs, access to an extensive nationwide network, and quality fuels, our team of fuel card experts can find a fuel card that’s right for you.

Get in touch today to find out more!

Spreadsheets are for finance, not fleet

Spreadsheets are for finance, not fleet

This is the third in a series of articles written with our partners at FleetCheck to help business owners and managers understand their legal requirements around managing staff that drive for work.

Since it was launched back in 1985, Microsoft Excel has become the go-to tool for individuals and businesses alike who need to store and organise data. Microsoft estimated that in 2022 around 1.1 billion people worldwide use Excel and a typical office worker can spend more than a third of their time working on it.

So clearly there must be lots to love about Excel. Cost, or the lack of it, is a major attraction. As part of Microsoft Office, there’s no need for any extra financial outlay. What’s more, Excel is simple and intuitive to use so people need minimal training. Factor in its versatility and ability to manipulate data in hundreds of different ways without swapping software, and it’s no surprise that Excel is so popular.

A variety of data problems

But, as a business grows, so does the potential for Excel to cause a whole variety of data problems. Unfortunately, these often only become apparent at a late stage when damage has already been done. Lost data, inconsistent data, numbers that just don’t add up – such problems are incredibly difficult to troubleshoot because Excel is not built for debugging. Data is stored over different sheets, folders and machines and an error in any one cell in any one sheet can have a cascading effect, so the error is compounded in many other calculations.

Horror stories are not hard to find about how small spreadsheet errors have caused serious problems. For example, in 2012 a simple cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet cost JP Morgan $6 billion. In 2010 British intelligence agency M15 ended up bugging the wrong phones due to a simple data formatting error. A typo led to the London Olympics overselling 10,000 tickets. None of these errors were discovered until it was too late.

Ironically, the inherent weaknesses in Excel that can lead to such catastrophes are the very same features that make it so popular. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Excel allows the user to type in anything they wish into a cell so input mistakes can go undetected. Excel won’t tell you you’ve made a mistake, so errors slip through the cracks and are then replicated across multiple sheets.
  • Excel allows the user a great deal of freedom over how they organise, manipulate and format data. That might not be a problem if they are the only person using the spreadsheet, but once usage is shared, problems can start. What do those different text colours signify? What does that abbreviation stand for? How and why were those formulas arrived at?
  • Excel spreadsheets are simple to edit and overwrite. New versions can proliferate and then be shared without the appropriate authorisation. As a result, it can be difficult to know which is the latest or correct version.
  • Excel can, and usually is, used by people without formal training. This can lead to spreadsheet systems becoming increasingly complicated and prone to error and malfunction.
  • The ease with which reports can be user-generated means that their value is entirely dependent on that user’s degree of understanding of data analysis.

The risk of compromising your data

Increasingly businesses are realising that it doesn’t make sense to risk compromising data that is crucial for business success and growth. And in today’s tightly regulated data environment, where fines can be eye-watering for non-compliance, a business’s digital competence is non-negotiable. How does Excel measure up on the three key pillars of data provenance, data auditing and data security?

  • Being able to track and document data provenance is how a business knows where its data has come from and therefore that it is accurate and reliable. Tracking what happens to data as it moves from spreadsheet to spreadsheet, between different users and even across different systems is a very difficult and complex task. As we have already noted, when spreadsheet data is corrupted, finding out where an error may have occurred is a herculean task.
  • Closely related to the concept of data provenance is the data audit trail. Whatever the size of a business, it’s essential there is a full data audit trail. An audit log should capture not just when and by whom data was created, modified or deleted but also if it was viewed, by whom and with what authority. Excel doesn’t offer any easy ways to create such a full audit trail, potentially leaving a business unable to prove regulatory compliance.
  • As the amount of your business data grows, so does the importance of keeping it secure. Although it is certainly possible to password-protect Excel files, it is also notoriously easy to bypass that password protection. Excel’s security level is very weak and the internet is full of free software to crack its very simple password encryption. Excel only really offers its users protection against accidental corruption rather than security against more deliberate breaches. And once someone has access to the spreadsheet data, you can’t restrict what they do with it.

Efficient and compliant fleet management

In common with many business areas today, fleet management has become a complex and highly regulated environment where data plays a crucial role in running an efficient and compliant operation. Spreadsheets can no longer be considered fit for purpose.

Numerous spreadsheets, multiple suppliers, different departmental systems and several operators managing in their own way equals a poorly managed fleet. The consequences can include:

  • Missed key dates including MOT, PMI and road tax.
  • Risk of lost data caused by multiple users updating spreadsheets at the same time.
  • Records for drivers and vehicles stored in different systems and formats.
  • Time wasted by team members searching for data across a variety of sources.
  • Lack of consistent management reports
  • Inability to demonstrate legal compliance

The future lies in dedicated software systems, designed specifically for the task of fleet management, that are just as easy to use and flexible as spreadsheets, but eliminate the potential for error, guarantee regulatory compliance and give a real-time overview of business performance.

If you would like more information on how to manage a safe and compliant fleet, check out our FleetCheck service or get your free demo today.