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Your vehicle questions answered - C-19 Lockdown and Beyond

Dear friends, contacts and clients, I hope you are keeping well and business is coping during this difficult time. 

Even when we 'return to work' normal may never be normal again. 

However, we the British are a resilient people, resourceful and optimistic and like you we are confident that businesses and the economy can flourish once again. We are all going to have to make adjustments, sacrifices and tough decisions - but this is what we need to get through. 

At KeyFleet we are ready to support our clients in whatever way we can. I understand many of you will be contemplating a future with perhaps less staff numbers, more online meetings, less driving and various cost reduction initiatives. 

We've been busy working with you discussing financial support from lenders and best practice around looking after your vehicles. And for many this will also mean looking at company car schemes vs cash allowance, the benefits of electric or hybrid vehicles, how you provision fuel and, for those businesses that have previously owned vehicles perhaps now is the time to explore the benefits of various funding packages and maybe even refinance of your current assets. 

But please, don't rush this, talk to us, we really can add some value and guide you through these decisions. 

Lockdown, although certainly unwelcome, has also presented many of us with the gift of time. Time to reflect, plan, review and essentially get organised with data, systems and processes. 

We have been working hard with companies to review the benefits of electric vehicles in terms of cost savings but also getting organised via our Keys system. In fact, we took the decision to provide free access to our Keys system for all of our business clients and all KeyFleet supplied vehicles. If you haven't received your login please contact sales@keyfleet.co.uk and we will make the arrangements for you. 

I was fortunate enough to deliver the webinar above recently in conjunction with the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce - Managing your vehicle or fleet during lockdown and beyond. Please feel free to have a watch. 

In the meantime, I've also listed below some FAQ's that seem to be most common with our clients at the moment - please take a look here keyfleet.co.uk 

Q - I have a vehicle on order - when will it be delivered? 
Many of our clients new vehicles are actually in stock right now, and have been for some weeks. Most of the dealers are now back open, or about to be, so slowly but surely vehicles are being delivered and we imagine we will deliver 99% of our physical stock before the 10th of May. Feel free to get in touch - we are as keen as you are to see these vehicles arrive with you. 

Q - My existing contract is expiring - how can I arrange collection? 
I'm experiencing this first hand currently as my fiancee's Tiguan is currently on our drive awaiting collection and has been since the 5th of this month. However, I do believe, just like with deliveries, vehicles are starting to be collected as usual. If your contract has ended do check with your leasing company as to whether you may cancel your insurance. A word of warning, if you contract has ended, without formal or informal extension, you may no longer be authorised to use the vehicle. In summary - you should be able to arrange collection now either via ourselves or the lease co but talk to us first. 

Q - Can I extend my existing contract? 
Often yes. And in fact extension might be a better solution that a holiday - Ill explain that later. Most finance houses will allow you to informally ad hoc extend based on a pro rata daily rate and/or arrange a formal extension. There is no guarantee that a formal extension, essentially a new quote, will reduce your payments and often the opposite is true. As above, please contact us to discuss. 

Q - Can I terminate my existing finance or lease contract? 
For personal or business contract hire you always have the option to terminate but this often comes at a cost. A common offer from the lease co is that you can terminate and pay 50% of the remaining rentals - but this isn't universal. If you have a PCP agreement, which we rarely supply, you may be able to return your vehicle if you have repaid over half the 'total amount payable' - please contact us for confirmation. 

Q - Are you open for business and taking new orders for vehicles? 
We certainly are. In fact, please visit keyfleet.co.uk to view our updated offers and pricing platform. 

Q - What support are the finance or lease companies offering if I, or my business, need help with payments? 
To the best of my knowledge every lender is working with clients on this and, for personal lease (regulated) clients, this was actually a compulsory instruction via the FCA. Generally I understand that clients are being offering either a holiday or an extension or both. But ensure you understand what you are agreeing to. A holiday will still require repayment and that can sometimes be spread over the remaining rentals - not helpful if you have little term left on your agreement. Or perhaps it is simply a bulk amount to repay by the end of the agreement. Just be sure before you agree but also consider if you can actually continue paying but at a reduced amount as part of a contract extension - it may be a better solution. 

Q - What if my vehicle need an MOT or service during lockdown? 
Your car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it’s due on or after 30 March 2020 - but you must keep your vehicle safe to drive. 

Q - Do company car drivers still have to pay BIK tax? 
HMRC had remained silent on the provision of benefits such as company cars. By means of a refresher, current rules provide that: A company car is taxed based on its availability for private use, irrespective of whether it is actually used privately. Any reduction in the benefit in kind (BIK) value for periods of unavailability can only be applied when the period of unavailability is at least 30 consecutive days, preceded and followed by taxable periods. How do these existing rules apply to the current situation? We are all living under significant restrictions which limit our ability to travel as we once did. However, a company car is still available for private use even where there are such restrictions in place. The car is still available for a trip to a supermarket, to attend a medical appointment or collect a prescription even if it is not so used. As such a benefit in kind for the provision of a company car still exists. What can be done to prevent a BIK arising when a car is not being used? For a company car to be considered unavailable it must be physically be located somewhere not directly associated with the employee and out of reach of the employee to use. With the current restrictions on unnecessary travel and with many workplaces being closed, it may not be possible to physically return the car either to the employer’s premises or a designated storage depot. In these current extraordinary circumstances HMRC have now confirmed that returning the car keys to the employer will be sufficient to demonstrate the car is unavailable. This is a helpful and sensible easement. Our recommendation is that this be documented in writing; a written declaration signed by both parties confirming that the car has been withdrawn and has therefore become unavailable for private use during this period. 

Q - Do drivers still need to perform vehicle checks? 
Yes I would recommend this and perhaps even encourage them to ventilate the vehicle and move it occasionally if it is not being used to circulate the tyre rubber. Also consider running the engine so it doesn't remain dormant for too long. No way to gather vehicle checks? Ask us about Keys - our online system. 

Q - How has this affected the leasing companies? 
I guess these days no business even a bank is immune from recession and hardship but I'm filled with confidence when I speak to the leasing companies and in fact I'm very proud to be part of an industry that is doing such a great job supporting its clients. Times are tough for all, the bank owned lease co's included, but we are ready to bounce back strong from this together and serve our clients as always. 

Q - How has this affected KeyFleet? 
Well with vehicle registrations down some 97% in the UK you can imagine its been a battle. However as a business we are financially secure and have enough revenue from subscriptions and fleet management services to keep us going plus we have only seen perhaps an 80% drop in orders so we are ahead of the curve. Our team of 14 is down to 4 currently with just myself, Jake, Liam and Graham working at the moment but we will be ok. We are very grateful to the government for all the support and we've been using this time to reposition, innovate and come back stronger and we are looking forward to coming back to the new normal - and whatever that brings... 

For all of our clients I thank you for your support and please rest assured that we are ready in turn to support you, open for business and here to take your questions. 

If you need any support at all whatsoever please get in touch. 

Marc 

marc@keyfleet.co.uk

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20th of May 2020

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