A scant and easily missed one-line mention in the Pre-Budget Report reveals that the government wants to encourage greater cycle use by making cycle helmets cheaper.
Removing VAT from the purchase of cycle helmets with effect from 1 April 2001 is to encourage road safety and encourage cycle use, says the report.
Julie Dymond, marketing manager of Crabtrees, which is now the exclusive importer of Limar helmets, told BikeBiz:
As far as road safety goes I hope it enourages more people to wear helmets. Im a cyclist and I wear one. Cost wont be a barrier anymore. Its got to be good news for the bike trade.
Richard Peploe of Madison, the Giro importer, agreed: This is good news for the industry, not least because of the publicity it will bring. Dealers should be aware that if they operate the VAT system correctly they will not suffer any loss on existing stock.
Youngsters are a vulnerable and important group of users, and will be the
main beneficiaries: now they can all buy a helmet at the same price, whereas the old system made a distinction based on head size rather than age of recipient.
The CTC welcomed the zero rating but added that they would like the concession to be extended to bikes.
Stuart Reid, the CTC Campaigns Manager, said:
Such a measure would do far more to encourage cycling, a stated aim of the Governments ten-year transport plan, than the reduction in the cost of helmets.
We welcome the fact that helmets will no longer attract VAT because it will make them more affordable to those choosing to wear them.
Although the evidence to suggest that helmets are of benefit is minimal, wearing them may make some cyclists more confident which is a good thing. A far more positive move, however, would be to drop VAT from cycles as well.
CTC also welcomed yesterdays increase in the tax free mileage allowance for employees using cycles for business trips from 12p to 20p.
Stuart Reid said:
We have campaigned long and hard for greater incentives for employees to use cycles more often. We are very pleased with this move and hope more employers will now provide a bike pool and encourage staff to cycle to work by providing bike racks, showers locker facilities and flexible working hours.