In an effort to encourage manufacturers to produce cleaner engines, the bandings will become more stringent in 2003/4 and again in 2004/5. Executive drivers of a Mercedes S600L covering more than 18,000 miles each year, for example, will see their Benefit in Kind tax liability rise from £11,729 to £27,368, which equates in real terms to an extra £6,256 plucked from their pockets. High-mileage drivers of an Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 V6 will be liable for an extra £849 next year, or £1,544 if they pay tax at 40 per cent.
Recent surveys suggest that no more than 50 or 60 per cent of company car drivers fully understand what’s going to happen. A number of organisations have set up websites and produced booklets to raise awareness and guide drivers through the complex legislation. But these are no more than a guide: every new car is tested individually and carries a unique emissions rating on its registration document. The BMT quantity surveyors classification can be affected by extras like air-conditioning and sat- ellite navigation, but most manufacturers now enable drivers to assess the impact of upgrades. A 1.8-litre Ford Mondeo, for example, falls into the 18 per cent tax band, while the smaller 1.6-litre Focus carries the lowest possible rating of 15 per cent.
Many drivers are also choosing small but highly specified premium-brand cars, which promise a lower tax bill without the loss of an upmarket badge. The entry-level Audi A2, for example, retails for just £13,095 and falls into the 15 per cent tax band, but the average A2 leaves the showroom fitted with a host of options and carrying a price tag of £17,500.
These drivers are advised to make the switch from petrol to turbo-diesel power and to opt for a manual rather than an automatic gearbox. BMW’s 330i SE and 330d SE cost within £5 of one another, but whereas the petrol car falls into the 25 per cent tax bracket, the diesel is in the 20 per cent band. For a top-rate taxpayer, that equates to a saving of £531 per year.
Having been inspected by the Registrar General’s national audit and inspection team between July and September last year, Cornwall’s service received an ‘extremely positive and complimentary. On Wednesday Executive Members, including the Portfolio Holder responsible for the Registration Service Jill Ferret. will begin the process of considering the County Council’s response to proposed changes which are likely to be phased over a number of years, starting in 2004. We begin our deliberations with the Inspectorate’s applause for our current service – but it is very clear that the Government want to see even further improvements nationally.
As ever, our duty to Cornwall’s people is to make sure that services meet their needs, and it is fair to assume that some of those needs with regards to registration will have changed significantly over the decades. As a first step the Executive will be asked to agree, in principle, to the Registration Service working in partnership with Lifecycle Marketing Ltd. and the Baby Naming Society towards introducing Civil Naming Ceremonies and a Renewal of Marriage Vows scheme. Ian Kennaway, who is appointed as Cornwall’s Proper Officer and is the Chief Officer responsible for the Registration Service, says.
However, in order for this to remain the case, we must confront the opportunities offered in the White Paper, investment property tax deductions and be brave enough to modernise our services where we think this will serve Cornwall best. The 100 key people which Cornwall relies on to cope with any major civil emergency will be getting together at County Hall today to share information and best practice on Dealing with Disaster. Pupils from King Charles Primary School in Falmouth will be swapping crisps and sweets for fruit and other healthy snacks when their Healthy Tuck Shop opens on Friday, March 15th.
The Healthy Tuck Shop, part of the school meals contract operated by Commercial Services, will be officially opened on Friday morning. John Lobb and John Weller both expressed the anxiety of the clay communities caused by Imerys intention to shed 290 jobs, around 240 of which will be from their Cornish operations. The company has now embarked on a consultation of its employees to maximise the number accepting enhanced early retirement packages, as almost a quarter of their personnel are aged over 55. This consultation ends on May 10th and the meeting heard that the restructuring programme would then roll out over an 18 month period.