Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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230. To ask the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to encourage active travel modes to and from work in his Department and public bodies and agencies that operate under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17376/22]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Cycle-to-Work scheme is an action of my Department and Revenue that encourages people to cycle to and from work. Section 118(5G) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA 1997) provides for this scheme. This scheme provides an exemption from benefit-in-kind where an employer purchases a bicycle and associated safety equipment for an employee. Under section 118B TCA 1997, an employer and employee may also enter into a salary sacrifice arrangement under which the employee agrees to sacrifice part of his or her salary, in exchange for a bicycle and related safety equipment. Where a bicycle or safety equipment is purchased under the Cycle-to-Work scheme or through a salary sacrifice arrangement, certain conditions must be met. Further guidance regarding the Cycle-to-Work scheme and salary sacrifice arrangements can be found on Revenue’s website. The Cycle-to-Work scheme is available to all staff in my Department and is centrally administered for my Department by the National Shared Services Office.

My Department has a number of facilities to aid staff who actively travel to work. There are dedicated, secure bicycle parking facilities across a number of locations, and a dedicated bicycle repair station is available. My Department also has a dedicated drying room, where staff can dry wet gear. There are shower facilities in all buildings occupied by my Department, which staff can utilise as required, and an increase in the capacity of shower cubicles is currently being assessed.

The following has been provided by the bodies under the aegis of my Department which have employees regarding the steps they are taking to encourage active travel modes to and from work:

The Central Bank published a Smarter Travel Action Plan on its intranet site, encouraging a shift to sustainable travel modes such as walking, cycling and public transport. The Bank is also considering a post-pandemic travel survey for all staff. It provides secure bicycle spaces, showers, changing rooms and drying rooms across its city centre campus to support/encourage staff to walk, run and cycle to work. These end of journey facilities, which include a bike maintenance station provide staff with the means to commute to work in a comfortable manner. Similar facilities are provided at the Bank’s premises in Sandyford. The Bank’s Facilities Management team meets regularly with a staff cycling liaison group to discuss any issues, and ensure provision of safe, secure and efficient facilities. This has been paused during the Pandemic due to the limited numbers cycling into the office. The Bank also advertises the Cycle to Work scheme for staff twice per year. The Tax Saver Public Transport programme for staff is actively promoted in the Central Bank’s communication channels and pop-up info stands during the course of the year. In conjunction with other organisations in the area and independently, the Bank has been in regular communication with the National Transport Authority to review transport options in the North Wall Quay (NWQ) district. Within the confines of the NWQ car park, 5 spaces are provided exclusively for the use of multi-occupancy cars and there are three electric car spaces available. With the construction of its new Mayor Street building (adjoining NWQ), facilities supporting active travel will again be to the fore, with a provision of a 200 space bike park and end of journey facilities.

The Investor Compensation Company shares a premises with the Central Bank and its staff are seconded from the Bank. As such, any facilities provided by the Bank or measures taken by the Bank to encourage active travel, as set out above, also apply to the Investor Compensation Company.

While the Credit Review Office is a body under the aegis of my Department, its staff are seconded from Enterprise Ireland (EI). EI is a body under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and as such EI is responsible for any measures taken to encourage and facilitate staff in the Credit Review Office to use active travel to commute to work.

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General has approximately 200 head count staff and four car park spaces but a large number of bicycle locking facilities and therefore the Office can more easily facilitate those who bike to work rather than those who drive. The Office also has changing rooms and showers at its premises, to facilitate those who use active travel to commute to work.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council includes information on the Cycle to Work scheme in its employee handbook/HR manual. A large number of employees have availed of this scheme since beginning their employment with the Council. In addition, on site facilities include dedicated secure bicycle parking and shower facilities.

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman encourages employees to commute to work using active travel by promoting the Cycle to Work scheme and making facilities available for staff who cycle to work. Since the implementation of its Phased Return to Work plan, the FSPO has encouraged active travel, both in the context of overall employee well-being and the potential impact on passenger numbers on public transport. The FSPO communicated the benefits of the Cycle to Work scheme most recently to staff in March 2022, which included useful information on the application process.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) are under my Department’s remit. The NTMA provides business, facilities and support services to NAMA, HBFI and the SBCI, and operates the Cycle to Work Scheme to encourage employees to use active travel to commute to work. The NTMA’s The Treasury Dock building has various facilities to encourage walkers, runners and cyclists such as 346 bicycle spaces, 4 changing rooms which house 30 showers and 324 lockers and 2 drying rooms for wet gear equipment

The Office of the Revenue Commissioners has an active employee well-being framework in place that includes encouragement of employees to remain active to support their well-being. Revenue supports cycling to work via the government Bike to Work Scheme. Some 80% of Revenue staff remain working from home. Those staff who are attending the workplace are advised to avoid the use of public transport and to walk or cycle to work where possible.

The Tax Appeals Commission has a small number of designated car parking spaces available so the Commission has been actively promoting the Cycle-to-Work scheme for any staff member who resides within a reasonable distance from its workplace. A sufficient number of secure bicycle racks are also available to meet the needs of any staff member who wishes to avail of the scheme. In addition to this, the Commission is also implementing a Pilot Blended Working Scheme which is reducing the need for staff to commute to and from work.


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