Released first in two initial 10% batches and then followed by two quick successions 30% releases this year, £200 million in value has been issued with 500,000 put into circulation, though not necessarily all redeemed.
The final two batches both came in March on the 11th and 30th, placing the bulk of the allocation on the market at a time when workshops across the country are widely reporting lead times of a fortnight or more. Compounding the workshop manager’s booking in dilemma, supply of key service componentry is at an all time low with items such as cassettes, brake oil, selected tyre sizes and other goods in severely short supply.
The scheme has caught the attention of the press at times, with BBC Radio segments hearing from bike shops and consumers alike the pros and cons of the scheme. In general the public has snapped the vouchers up, the first release immediately crashing the launch website and subsequent batches snapped up with 48 hours. There is a a 90-day validity on the bike repair vouchers.
According to CI.N’s annual market study, 59% of stores accepted bike repair vouchers, while 23% said they turned them away with reasons ranging from admin burden through to attempted mis-use of the scheme by customers. Illustrating how desperate shops have become for supply, 31% have attempted to directly source their own goods during the pandemic in order to maintain stock levels.
“There’s a realistic situation where we all grind to a halt for repairs for even fairly basic items,” said one retailer CI.N quizzed on the state of play in the workshop recently.
The Fix Your Bike voucher scheme is funded as part of the Government’s £2 billion walking and cycling budget, which it can fairly be said does not cover the bill attached to the stated ambition to deliver children’s and adult’s cycle training, a nationwide network of cycling infrastructure, bike repair vouchers and other manifesto pledges.
The Department for Transport has now responded to CI.N’s request for further detail on the shortfall, commenting: “20% of the vouchers weren’t withdrawn. We are providing a mix of vouchers and cycle repair pop up initiatives in order to be able to fix as many bikes as possible – to fix up to half a million cycles in total.”