While the Cycle to Work scheme has helped thousands to successfully ditch the motor vehicle for a bicycle, a London-based company called gogeta is claiming to “reinvent” the scheme with its ‘Flexi Vouchers’, allowing customers to avail of them at different retailers over a year until the balance is withdrawn, while also accusing “legacy” providers such as Cyclescheme and Halfords of “profiting whilst damaging independent retailers”.
However, Green Commuter Initiative (GCI), another existing provider of the scheme, has responded to road.cc with fiery words about the new scheme, saying that the gogeta team only mimicked its own model and is “not the real thing”.
The Cycle to Work scheme was introduced by the UK Government in 1999 to promote greener and healthier alternatives for travelling to work, allowing employees to purchase bikes and other equipment while offering a tax-free benefit with the help of a ‘salary-sacrifice’.
However, in recent years, there has been some controversy around the scheme, with bike retailers claiming the commission scheme used by Cyclescheme, one of the biggest providers of the Cycle to Work scheme, was “unviable” to be continued.
gogeta, meanwhile, has been founded by a former independent bike retailer who was reportedly fed up with watching legacy schemes make huge profits while offering a poor user experience. It is the only cycle scheme endorsed by the Association of Cycle Traders, with a commission of three per cent as opposed to Cyclescheme’s 10 per cent.
With gogeta’s Flexi Voucher, customers can use the voucher multiple times, meaning cyclists who may not want another bike but instead parts, clothes or accessories, can take advantage and not be locked into buying everything at once.
According to gogeta, “legacy schemes are not working”. It said: “For too long, legacy cycle to work schemes such as Cyclescheme and Halfords, who together account for 90 per cent of the market, have been profiting whilst damaging independent bike retailers, charging cyclists excessive fees and providing a poor user experience.”
Barry Scott, founder of gogeta, talking about the Flexi Voucher, said: “For the first time customers won’t feel pressurised to spend everything all in one go. For too long cycle to work schemes have been riddled with compromise. Flexi Voucher brings us a big step closer to our mission of delivering the best possible retail experience for cyclists, that just happens to be tax-free.”
However, GCI told road.cc that “the Gogeta team spent a lot of time quizzing GCI about its model before going off to develop a platform which mimics the GCI model”.
GCI said: “Like any mimic, it’s not the real thing and potentially has flaws which could mean an employee might lose their bike even though they’ve paid for it.
“There’s a lot of noise about reinventing the Cycle to Work scheme but some fiddling with supplier’s commission rates doesn’t compare with GCI’s innovation of removing the £1,000 cap, thus making electric bikes available.”
GCI said that it has the lowest reseller commission rates on sale goods, because GCI uniquely allows the supplier to pass commission on. It added: “The supplier is already contributing enough and if the employee is getting a big discount as well as the tax break, we know they’re happy to cover the five per cent.
“gogeta along with Cyclescheme prohibit this and even after the supplier has given up so much, they still want the supplier’s three per cent as well as the four per cent they charge the employees. Often the employer also has to pay a fee to use their platform. GCI is a not-for-profit and its only revenue is the retailer commission.”
gogeta's founder Barry Scott has responded to road.cc regarding GCI's comments, saying that “Flexi Voucher is indeed completely new and has not been done before” and that only gogeta offers “customers the ability to spend at different retailers at different times with one voucher”.
He said: “As a business which says it supports independent bike retailers, we’d expect GCI to welcome any new provider that challenges the dire status quo of legacy schemes such as Cyclescheme and Halfords and their punitive commissions.
“Whilst gogeta certainly hasn’t mimicked GCI’s model (with a totally different fee structure and product offer) we certainly commend them for what they have done in reducing commissions to retailers.”
While the Cycle to Work scheme wars carries on, it was only in 2020 that the scheme was deemed “unviable” for retailers, with Cyclescheme’s flat rate of 10 per cent commission on bicycles coming under scrutiny from the cycling industry as the £1,000 price limit on the bikes being purchased was scrapped.
In September 2020, Cyclescheme, owned privately by an American firm after being founded in 2007 in Bath, was forced to slash retailer commission rates after the growing industry pressure.
Last year, a Labour transport spokesperson had branded the Cycle to Work scheme “outdated” and “no longer fit for purpose” for London, and claimed that the initiative needs “wholesale reform” to help boost “affordable, healthy and greener travel options for Londoners”.
Labour’s call to reform Cycle to Work came just over a month after a number of organisations, including the Cycle to Work Alliance, the Co-op, the Federation of Small Businesses, and British Cycling, published a letter urging then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and cycling minister Trudy Harrison to open up the scheme to lower-paid workers and the self-employed.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.