Smart Transport

Government policy is a taxing problem inhibiting switch to multi-modal transport

‘Joined-up government’ is one of those concepts like ‘an integrated transport system’ for which Yes Minister’s Jim Hacker searched in vain.

Problem is, so, too, do his real-life counterparts; mention of HM Treasury is liable to bring a frown to other Whitehall departments – and not just because of funding disputes. Policies can conflict, such as the Government’s desire to promote modal shift in transport and taxation rules originated for other purposes that hamper this. Although senior ministers can, in theory, bang departmental heads together, they usually prefer to pick their battles with care.

The result is that measures that might use the tax system to promote modal shift are not used as they might be for fear of legal and financial complications.

One such is legislation on employers providing benefits-in-kind (BIKs), which can affect attempts by employers to provide free or discounted bus travel to staff, or to encourage better use of company cars.

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