Government’s bike repair scheme continues to cause small biz problems

The Department for Transport’s £50 bike repair incentive, designed to encourage people to utilise their bikes for transport, continues to cause significant problems for businesses participating.

Last month CI.N began to collect stories from participating small businesses, later polling our trade-locked forum on just how smoothly the roll out had been. As of today, 100% of responses to our poll have indicated that payment has fallen outside of the stipulated window; many say they have not been paid at all yet.

In the original Energy Saving Trust guide to the scheme businesses were informed payments would be processed on a weekly basis, but shops and mobile mechanics are indicating that, if anything, payment speed has slowed.

The Yorkshire Bicycle Company’s Andy Ryland told CI.N: “Like others I am waiting for payment. I have emailed, but not even had an acknowledgment. I am wondering if I haven’t sent the right sort of information, which is disconcerting. The issue is, as a small business, cash flow is key.

“I have others customers holding off getting bikes repaired as they wait for the next tranche of vouchers. This feels like another Government mess, alongside the A level results. It seemed businesses have to jump though a lot of hoops to get paid in a way which is disproportionate to the amount of money involved for each claim.”

The concerns are echoed by Mandy Simpson of Bike Bench, who despite submitting claims on August 3rd had not been paid by late August.

“We’ve had 19 vouchers through our doors, I’ve redeemed 17 of them as were waiting for parts for the remaining 2 bikes. I have received no payment as yet, despite promises of a 5 to 12 day turnaround.

“Due to the freeze on releasing more vouchers we have now got customers cancelling bookings as they want, and need, to have a voucher to be able to afford the relevant repairs. This is a nightmare as we are really busy, so it’s very frustrating to have slots booked and cancelled due to no vouchers being available and absolutely no indication of when they can be applied for again.”

Others are suggesting they are now meeting headwinds in being paid at all due to small print insurance details.

Ashley Lewis at Dorvics Cycles told CI.N: “Despite having a log in and ability to redeem vouchers they are not paying us as apparently we do not have ‘bike servicing insurance’. We do of course have employers’ liability, public liability, product and services liability cover, but they are saying that we need specific ‘bike servicing’ cover. They won’t explain what this actually means. We are a retail bike shop that has been around for 50 years.”

Likewise, among the comments attached to CI.N’s poll, Cyclehouse’s Si Owen wrote: “Signed up six weeks ago. Processed three vouchers on the portal and had an email today to let me know that the information originally provided six weeks ago was incorrect.”

The Department for Transport, when pressed by CI.N for comment, was cagey on what will happen next and appeared within comments issued to extend the payment window to 15 days.

A DfT spokesperson told us: “The Fix Your Bike scheme has been hugely popular and all vouchers in the first batch have now been allocated.

“Bike repair shops should receive payment within 15 working days, subject to anti-fraud checks as set out in the Terms and Conditions when shops signed up to the scheme.

“The next tranche of bike repair vouchers will be made available when the market allows.

“Participating repair shops should make sure the information they are providing is consistent, for example that the bank account name they provide matches the name of the business, and that they have a valid insurance certificate.”

Offering a light-hearted perspective, one comment reads “How many of us bike dealers pay our bills on time.”

An email sent out to participants today suggests that 2,472 bike repair outlets have signed up to participate in the DfT-funded scheme.

Within that clarity is offered on payment: “Payments will be received within a maximum of 15 working days in line with the Terms and Conditions for Participating Retailers which businesses sign up to at the point of registration. Claims are downloaded by Energy Saving Trust on a weekly basis and payment is made within five working days of download. An extra three to five working days should be allowed for BACS transfers to clear in the recipient’s account.”

Those with a problem claiming their payments can now send an email via a priority repair outlet line here.