No plans to expand Cycle to Work scheme to children says minister

— Scheme will also not be expanded to the self-employed

Finance minister Michael Noonan has said he will not expand the Cycle to Work scheme to school children as he fears it would “drive up bicycle prices” and that it would be “discriminatory towards children whose parents do not work”.

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The minister was replying to a parliamentary question from Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan (Labour). As we reported in July, Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour) previously suggested that there should be a Cycle to School scheme for children.

Minister Noonan said: “The Cycle to Work scheme is essentially an environmental measure. It was introduced on that basis to help lower carbon emissions, reduce traffic congestion, encourage more employees to cycle to work and also to help improve health and fitness levels. However, as children tend to receive bicycles from their parents there is a concern that such an extension to the scheme would become a subsidy towards purchases which would happen anyway and would therefore drive up bicycle prices, as subsidies tend to do.”

He add: “In addition, any subsidy to the children of parents who are in employment could be seen as discriminatory towards children whose parents do not work.”

“Finally, as Minister for Finance I must be conscious that the introduction or expansion of any scheme creates a cost and that cost must be recovered elsewhere. It was estimated at the time of the introduction of the scheme that approximately 7,000 employees would avail of it over the first five-year period of its operation. However anecdotal evidence would suggest that the scheme has been considerably more successful than this. I am not in a position at this point, therefore, to consider extending the scheme as the Deputy suggests and I have no plans to do so,” said the minister.

The minister also this week reject a call to expand the system to people who are self-employed. The minister said: “I have no plans to amend the Scheme as suggested since the concept of benefit in kind does not arise in the case of the self-employed. For self-employed persons all expenses “wholly and exclusively” incurred for the purpose of their trade or profession are allowable for tax purposes. There is no tax deduction for self-employed persons in respect of costs incurred by them in relation to travelling to and from their place of business.”

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