The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and over 150 agencies and businesses from the UK media and advertising sector, including Sir Martin Sorrell, Jude Ower MBE, PHD Media, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, adam&eveDDB, Goodstuff and Creature, have issued an open letter to the Prime Minister demanding changes to the current business tax legislation regarding taxis.
The letter has been written in response to the tragic death of Sarah Everard. Published in the Guardian today, it calls on the government to review the current HRMC rules regarding business taxi expenses in order to help keep employees safe.
According to a White Paper published last year by the Global Business Travel Association, safety is the top priority for 60% of people when choosing how to travel for business.
But currently, only taxis employees take home from work after 9pm are viewed as a legitimate business expense, however, taxis taken home from work before 9pm, regardless of context, are viewed as a taxable benefit. As a result, employers are actively disincentivised from keeping their employees safe before 9pm; and employees are being taxed if they try to look after themselves.
The signatories are urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to review and change the HRMC rules around taxis and make it easier for all businesses to make sure their employees get home safe should they use this option.
Dan Cullen-Shute, CEO of independent agency Creature, is spearheading this movement with the IPA. He says: “There is clearly a vital conversation to be had around the behaviour of men, and the safety of women within society - and it’s a conversation in which I hope our industry will play a positive part in the months and years to come. As business leaders, though, we have an immediate duty of care to the people who work for us, male and female, and as things stand, we and, most importantly, our employees are penalised if they would feel safer taking a taxi home before 9pm. In a country where it’s dark at 5pm for a third of the year, that feels fundamentally unjustifiable: and we would ask HMRC to take this small step as soon as possible.”
Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA says: “The IPA is supporting this initiative because it is time for HMRC to look at the anachronistic rules that currently apply to employees taking taxis home. We feel delighted that so many members feel the same and are looking forward to engaging with Government on this issue.”
Hanisha Kotecha, chief client officer at Creature adds: “This initiative is by no means the solution to the issue of violence against women, which can only be solved through serious behaviour change so that women and all those who feel vulnerable can feel safe on the street at night. But it is a small change that could make a big difference to many. It also highlights the lack of consideration for women throughout current legislation, which must change if we are to see equality in society.”
The Get Home Safe Initiative is asking for business leaders to add their names to the list of signatories on the website www.get-home-safe.com