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Struggling to Find Parking in the City Centre? Try Cycling Instead - With the Government's Help

June 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 203

City centre living has become increasingly desirable in the last ten years, with property developments having sprung up all over our major cities in the UK. Due to constraints on land space, however, particularly when it comes to converted buildings which weren't purpose built as accommodation, car parking tends to be at a premium. The more central you get, the less likely you are to find one parking space, let alone the two spaces that many cohabiters require. Many people are therefore forced to give up on the dream of living right at the hub of city life, moving to the less-densely-populated suburbs or they end up paying exorbitant fees on top of their already-high rents to hire spaces in local multi-storeys.

There is another way, however. Many people don't realise that in 1999, the government proposed and has since implemented the "Cycle to Work" scheme to encourage citizens to be greener and ditch their gas-guzzling cars. Under the scheme, participants can purchase bicycles and safety equipment tax free, saving around 32% on the usual cost.

Cycling means no pesky parking disputes - due to demand, a growing number of property developments now have areas on-site for secure cycle parking, or else bikes can chained to railings surrounding the development. Other tenants choose to keep their bikes within their apartments or locked up on balconies.

The only snag is that your employer must participate in the scheme in order for you to be able to claim for a tax-free bike purchase. Normally, your employer either will have their own direct arrangement with a participating cycling shop or otherwise they will ask you to go along to a participating store with a certificate proving your eligibility to select your new cycle.

Sometimes your employer will buy the bike for you outright but in this case, it will remain the property of your employer rather than belonging to you and may have to be surrendered if you leave your job. Otherwise, with your agreement, your employer will recover the cost of the cycle through your wages.

So what should you do if your company is not involved?

Well, Directgov encourages employees to speak to their bosses about taking part and the benefits that this can have for their workforce. After all, the worst that your employer can say is "no".

And what if you're self-employed? Well, this does not mean that you need to miss out. Although there is no specific scheme for the self-employed, you can apply for tax relief on cycling equipment used for business purposes by contacting the HMRC.

Don't forget that you must use your bike at least 50% of the time for commuting in order to qualify for the "Cycle to Work" scheme - but just think, you can spend that other 50% of the time discovering our country by cycle, avoiding traffic, high petrol bills and getting fit all at the same time!

Even if you do not qualify for this scheme for whatever reason, buying and maintaining a bike still is a much more cost-effective alternative to driving, which could save you time as well as money. Of course, top-of-the-range, state-of-the-art bicycles can cost several thousand pounds but you can pick up budget or second-hand bikes in supermarkets or on websites like eBay and Gumtree.

Julie Twist Properties has rented and sold property in Manchester City Centre for the past 20 years, and is a leader in the market. Julie won Estate Agency of the year in 2005 and has been on the judging panel in London ever since. Apartments in Manchester City Centre are her passion.

Source: EzineArticles
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