Step 1 – get your eligible kilometres right
When preparing the eligible kilometres section of your claim, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you know your Commercial from your Tendered mileage?
Since the devolution of BSOG for tendered operations to Local Authorities back in 2013, operators have been required to separate out the eligible live and dead kilometres on their year-end return between commercial and tendered. Given the significant difference in the BSOG rate between commercial and tendered operations (34.57p / litre) it is essential that you correctly allocate mileage between the two categories.
We regularly identify instances where operators incorrectly classify deminimis arrangements and section 106 funded operations as tendered, rather than commercial, and as such understate their claim. We identified one such incident recently whereby the claim was subsequently increased by £50k.
Tip – prior to completion of the claim form, review your Local Authority contracts to identify all those operations that are actually tendered, ensuring that deminimis and s106 are treated as commercial for BSOG purposes.
2. School services – how do you register yours?
Following a complete review of the eligibility of school services, the DfT introduced an additional requirement that all such services must be registered solely as “normal stopping” in order to be claimable for BSOG.
Operators often forget this and register services as “school / works” (which should only be used for closed-door contracts) rendering them ineligible for BSOG. Earlier this year an operator was unable to claim for a school service due to this oversight, costing the company £7k in lost BSOG.
Tip – check the DVSA website to ensure that your eligible school services are registered as “normal stopping”. If they are shown as “school / works” or “limited stop” then contact the Traffic Area Office for the registration particulars to be updated as soon as possible.
3. Is your information up to date?
On receipt of the PSV311 claim form, the DfT will check the service registration details on both the previous return and the DVSA website. Where the details cannot be agreed, queries will be raised, delaying the settlement of your claim.
EPM are ensuring that all our estimate and certified claim submissions are submitted with a comparator schedule, which compares the submitted data with the previous year’s submission; providing explanation for the changes. This has significantly reduced the level of queries being raised by the DfT.
Tip – ensure that the registration details on your return are complete and up-to-date to avoid delays and the cashflow implications this brings. By updating the EPM Traffic system this information will be reported automatically on both the year end return and the estimate submission.
4. What about the ‘gained’?
There’s great emphasis on operators to capture lost mileage not only for BSOG purposes, but also as a KPI to measure reliability. However, many fail to record the consequential gained mileage that often results from breakdowns, changeovers, etc. – thereby understating their claim.
Tip – as part of your lost mileage recording, introduce a process which at the same time captures the additional mileage for inclusion in your BSOG claim. For users of EPM Traffic, the system automatically prompts for entry of the additional mileage, storing a database of common journeys and a complete audit trail in the event of an inspection by the DfT.
5. How accurate are your mileages?
For users of electronic scheduling systems, the incorrect tracing of a route or an input error can have a huge impact on the route mileage, resulting in an incorrect BSOG return.
Tip – users of the EPM Traffic system have automatic access to the Schedule Audit Tool, which performs several tests to check the integrity of the mileage in the schedule – whether this is from Omnibus, Trapeze, Austrics, Optibus, etc. Every time a new schedule is produced, the SAT programme should be run, anomalies investigated and where necessary the schedule updated before processing.