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The Pure Column: Calling for a new ‘cycling in retirement’ scheme

January 19th 2021

Pure Electric is calling on the UK Government to introduce a new scheme to help retired people enjoy the benefits of cycling.

A ‘Cycling in Retirement’ scheme would give retired people the same benefits as the existing Cycle to Work scheme, which allows employees to buy bikes and cycling-related equipment at a discount thanks to a tax break from the government.

The proposed scheme would be based around an applicant’s state pension, with pensioners receiving a voucher from the government, enabling them to buy a bike or e-bike up front. The cost would then be repaid over the next couple of years through a weekly deduction from their state pension. As with the Cycle to Work scheme they wouldn’t have to repay the whole cost, meaning that they’d get their bike or e-bike at a 20% discount.

Our research shows that not only would it possibly prove very popular, it also wouldn’t cost the government a huge amount of money. We estimate it might cost £50 million a year; by comparison freezing the fuel duty escalator has cost the government an average of around £5 billion a year since 2011 hundred times as much [1].

Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths (equal to smoking, incidentally) and costs the UK £7.4 billion a year (including £0.9 billion to the NHS [1]. Physical inactivity in later life will cost the NHS £103 million this year, rising to £120 million by 2030 [2]. Around 6.4 million people aged 55+ are inactive – which equates to over half of all inactive people in England [2].

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance and value of leading a healthy lifestyle. It has also put additional pressure on our transport system, meaning that a scheme which encourages cycling would have multiple benefits.

According to the National Travel Survey [3], over 60s have poorer access to cycling equipment than any other age group, so we think that it is only fair to introduce a scheme like this, which would give them the same benefits as employees enjoy already, and increase their access to a proven health-improving, life-extending means of exercise.

There’s a new budget to come in a couple of months (currently scheduled for 3 March), so we’ve written to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, asking him to take a look at this proposed scheme.

Tom McPhail is Pure Electric’s cycling and e-scooting expert, our man with his finger on the pulse of the latest developments in electric transport.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-applying-all-our-health/physical-activity-applying-all-our-health

[2] https://demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Active-Ageing-an-Anchor-Hanover-report-in-association-with-Demos.Final_.pdf

[3] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/906276/national-travel-survey-2019.pdf

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