Driving To Deliver Your Business

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Road Haulage Operators and Freight Forwarding Agents Find More Work as Civil Servants

Society Increasingly Reliant on Private Companies to Police Themselves and Collect Revenue Shipping News Feature UK Both the UK and Europe have been moving almost imperceptibly to become a working society in which a company is responsible for administrating not only its employees’ behaviour, but that of its customers as well as its own, and being liable to penalties for failing to follow government guidelines when doing so . Many companies traditionally resent the fact that, not only do they have to collect carefully calculated amounts of tax, such as VAT, and hand it to central government, but stand to be heavily penalised should they make any honest mistakes in their calculations, whilst of course all the associated administrative costs are simply a drain on resources.

Now it seems it is the fashion for governments, the UK is a case in point, to cut the number of public employees to the bone but, to avoid any loss of revenue, pass on the mantle of responsibility to the companies concerned, and the transport and logistics sector it seems is a prime target . Two unconnected examples in the UK, aside from the fact they both now fall under the auspices of HM Revenue and Customs1, give perfect illustrations of this.

In the first instance there is the case of night out money, traditionally payable to lorry drivers who have to rest whilst away from home overnight . Payment for such inconveniences have always varied dependent on employer, driver and the circumstances of the job . As vehicle technology has evolved over the decades the sleeper cabs now fitted to trucks are dedicated to making life on the road as comfortable as possible.

Last year HMRC decided that any such payments are to be deemed as income as opposed to expenses, i.e . liable to tax as such . The road haulage lobby complained bitterly explaining that there is a small matter of subsistence, food being one of a number of essentials, personal hygiene, laundry and other costs perhaps, and even a bed for the night if they do not have a suitable cab .

Now certain countries forbid taking the weekly 45 hour rest even in the most luxurious of cabs, and where does one sleep if parked in a major city awaiting delivery on the next working day? Despite the complaint, the HMRC in its usual fashion, started to come up with complex solutions to resolve a problem that had never before seemed to exist . To ensure only genuine expenses are claimed, HMRC began insisting that a haulage operator must conduct sample reviews without specifying how often .

The advice given to hauliers has been inconsistent and includes such as this a driver selected for a sample review must satisfy you that they had been away from base on the night the claim relates and that they incurred the cost of food and drink . You need therefore to see evidence that a meal was bought which could be a receipt or, if not, then HMRC will accept a photo of the meal which shows a time and date . And this the drivers are required to keep the evidence until you have reviewed the period to be reviewed .

If the driver is selected for review then that evidence must be passed to you to check . You can either keep this evidence or prepare a spreadsheet showing who was selected for review and detail of the evidence they provided which states what you saw and the amount of the claim . All this to make sure that the driver is entitled to the huge sum of 26.20 per night (or 34.90 for drivers without sleeper cab) for all the costs incurred during a night away from home .

So leave the real world, photograph your dinner and staple the picture to your spreadsheet – couldn t be simpler. Now this type of thinking, get a company to do the government required admin and penalise them if they don t come up to scratch (scratch being arbitrarily decided post event) seems to be spreading faster than PFI as a cost control measure for the administration (and we know how well that s working out) . The next example is the government inspired wheeze to save an estimated 1.9 billion annually in lost VAT, uncannily close to the amount the UK is currently being fined by the EU after the HMRC has allegedly failed to collect correct duties and taxes on goods imported from outside the Community.

Not that ‘ 2 billion is the actual amount, the government itself puts the annual shortfall in VAT at 13.5 billion due to fraud, company liquidations when in debt to the Treasury, and simple bad management (presumably it means by the collectors i.e . the VAT registered companies, not its own staff) . So how to mend that 1.9 billion hole in the accounts ?

The HMRC sees the new Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme2 as the answer . Critics say this is more a case of we can t manage it, so you ll have to and then we can claim the money from you if you are as bad at it as we were . The scheme means that unscrupulous exporters operating abroad who send goods to the UK, usually via internet sales who avoid duty and VAT payments are, from June 2019, to be held to account by the freight agents they appoint to handle their stock .

We put the point to the HMRC representative who was outlining the scheme to us that what was envisaged, i.e . examining and taking responsibility for the actual goods, goes against the professional status which a freight forwarding agent traditionally holds. The Due Diligence effectively means that if a company imports goods as stock to be distributed by a UK agent, that agent needs to be registered as a Fulfilment House .

Once registered the agent takes over all responsibility, and has to ensure not only that the goods are exactly as described on the import entry, but are of the precise nature and quality required and worth the correct declared value for duty and VAT purposes (and potentially safe to use and legally compliant). These checks of course mean that it is necessary for the Fulfilment House not only to open some of the goods to physically check them (something which goes completely against all the principles of the forwarding trade), but ascertain the value and quality are exactly as described, plus keep a proper log detailing all his or her findings for HMRC to inspect at will. As usual there is no direct reward for the agent in this from the authorities (whose job is now in the company s remit), whilst there is a considerable potential for downside in the way of penalties (up to 20,000) .

When we put it to the relevant official that the items most likely to abuse VAT regulations were liable to be items such as mobile phones, tablets etc . and that, once the security sealed packages these are usually packed in were opened they became unsaleable, answer came there none, as was pointed out in an earlier article 3describing the regulations in full. In the two instances quoted the relevant UK bodies who lobby on behalf of their respective sectors have been active in promoting their members causes .

The Road Haulage Association (RHA4) has consistently pressed for common sense over the night payments to drivers, rightly considering that there has been no evidence of widespread abuse, whilst elsewhere many feel much more serious practices avoiding tax have been bypassed without investigation or prevention. In the case of Fulfilment Houses the British International Freight Association (BIFA5) has been involved in the consultation process for approximately three years and feels that, with its input, the regulations as introduced are not as onerous as they might have been, the original proposals having been much more draconian. BIFA s Executive Director, Robert Windsor confirmed that there is a move in Europe intending to make the trader more responsible for their own activities and industry more self-policing, something BIFA has repeatedly outlined, in part through its published papers regarding Customs Representation which highlighted the situations where a forwarder acting on behalf of a party not established in the EU would in effect become fully responsible for all aspects of customs activity.

Robert Windsor points out that although the original intention of HMRC did not concern itself with product safety, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS6) has been working on implementing a Product Safety Directive which, as it is applicable to the importer, would effectively render the Fulfilment House liable for all aspects of the supply of goods to the market including safety and product recall if necessary. BIFA has ongoing meetings scheduled with both the BEIS and its legal teams and, despite the fact applications for Fulfilment House status are currently being processed, the final responsibilities of such a qualification remain unclear at present . Until the muddy waters of Brexit clear somewhat the actual effect of these regulations will be hard to gauge, as the EU status of goods imported from beyond the borders of the EU on which duty and VAT have been paid in the UK, remain impossible to determine at this time.

No matter how loud the complaints regarding the extra responsibilities, the matter of Fulfilment Houses requires a mind shift from the logistics community .

Whatever Brexit brings, the role is not one of a traditional forwarder rather that of an agent with a vested interest in the actual import business itself .

Those considering it simply as a useful add on to their existing trade should be aware that there are pitfalls regarding acting for foreign companies for which they have no full understanding of their status, history, morals and intent.

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References

  1. ^ HM Revenue and Customs (www.gov.uk)
  2. ^ Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme (www.gov.uk)
  3. ^ earlier article (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  4. ^ RHA (www.rha.uk.net)
  5. ^ BIFA (www.bifa.org)
  6. ^ BEIS (www.gov.uk)

Southern Nevada’s Freight Corridor Gets the Vegas Treatment – Transport Topics Online

LAS VEGAS Before dawn on weekdays Paul DeLong arrives downtown to lead his team of commercial drivers in transporting equipment back and forth at construction sites for a project aimed at improving the work lives of truckers like him. His crew averages eight trips per shift using as many as six Western Star trucks during these final months of the aptly named Project Neon.

The $1 billion project will widen Interstate 15 at the U.S .

95 interchange Spaghetti Bowl, commonly known for its bumper-to-bumper traffic and accidents.

Excavator on U.S .< />
<p>93″ src=”http://www.translogistics.net/posts/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/99d9treatment-excavator.jpg” /></p>
<p><span><em>Construction is ongoing near the Spaghetti Bowl. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)</em></span></p>
<p>On a rare rainy afternoon on May 1, when Transport Topics caught up with DeLong and the construction crew with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., a driver had taken an excavator with a magnet attachment from a yard at Bonanza Road and transported it to the Charleston Boulevard site, just a few miles from the heart of a city inundated with tourists, celebrities, street performers and the many locals who live here . All the while, the crew from Kiewit removed the remnants of a bridge that had been turned to rubble to make room for the road expansion.</p>
<p>For DeLong, owner of a local eponymous heavy-haul firm operating since the mid- 80s and a member of the Nevada Trucking Association, Project Neon is not the typical highway renovation.</p>
<p>The project will mark a better way to access the periphery of America s playground .</p>
<p>The much-needed boost for truckers will increase lane capacity at the state s southern premier freight corridor . Passing through it will be quicker, and safer.</p>
<p>As DeLong put it, Project Neon will hopefully eliminate the congestion getting through the Las Vegas area, north and south. </p>
<p>Project managers anticipate a reduction in congestion by 30% after completion, as well as a reduction in the average of three accidents daily . The reduction in truck traffic and travel delays will likely result in $110 million annual savings for the freight industry and motorists through increased productivity, the Nevada Department of Transportation estimates.</p>
<p>Project Neon, the largest public works project in state history, targets 3.7 miles on the interstate between Sahara Avenue and the interchange with the Spaghetti Bowl .</p>
<p>Sahara Avenue is about 2.5 miles north of the Strip, and the Spaghetti Bowl is the busiest stretch of highway in Nevada with some 25,000 lane changes hourly.</p>
<h3>Project Goals</h3>
<p>At the site about half a dozen construction workers with Kiewit donning hard hats were stationed at the Bonanza Road yard . A crew member used an excavator with a magnet attachment to asses debris from the demolished old roadway in order to access metal while another crew member collected rubble with a bulldozer for disposal, construction that will continue for nearly a year as ramps and miles of roadway have yet to be paved.</p>
<p>embedded content</p>
<p>The project will include high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and an intricate active traffic management system consisting of 42 massive electronic message boards . Nine boards have been installed with six already operational, said Susan Berkley, the project s public involvement coordinator .</p>
<p>The boards are designed to promote speed harmonization by alerting drivers of accidents and severe traffic or weather.</p>
<p>Fuel consumption would improve for freight haulers by reducing the amount of stop-and-go movement on the roadway . This could lead to fuel savings as high as 40%, city officials with the mayor s office estimate.</p>
<p>The project is funded primarily through state revenue bonds . The city contributed $75 million in locally obligated federal highway funds, according to project managers .</p>
<p>Construction kicked off nearly two years ago with completion projected for summer 2019 . And when it is finished each road meticulously in its place Project Neon will be its own salute to the local ethos: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.</p>
<p>Truckers are anticipating the change considering traffic through the corridor is expected to double by 2035 . Several drivers familiar with I-15 said that it s a huge delay .</p>
<p>However, notwithstanding the congested bottlenecks, truckers gotta be safe out there, said Gragg Wilson of FedEx Freight.</p>
<h3>Better Access</h3>
<p>The Las Vegas metropolitan area is a shipping and freight hub demanding constant supplies of food, goods and services to maintain various industries.</p>
<p><img class=

A bulldozer at the Bonanza Road yard. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

Of the 300,000 vehicles on the Spaghetti Bowl every day, about 17,900 on I-15 are trucks . U.S .

95 along the same stretch is used by 2,000 trucks daily, according to NDOT . Commercial drivers travel to and from California s ports and southwest hubs to reach warehouses, storage facilities and construction sites .

Other truckers focus primarily on last-mile routes across the metropolitan area, and longhaul truckers rely on the corridor en route to states farther north or east.

With $95 billion of commerce traveling annually along the corridor, congestion leads to potential slowdowns in local and state economies . That concern prompted emphasis on freight for the project, explained Dale Keller, Project Neon s senior project manager.

We re not in the business anymore of moving vehicles . We re about moving people and goods .

So, that method and that model really applies to this Project Neon by creating different transportation choices that we have, Keller said . You ve seen out here our footprint: You can t get any wider, right ? It s very expensive .

So we re trying to find these other choices, other transportation solutions to implement that.

Infrastructure Week

Our reporters kicked off the week with a look at how some new ideas are playing out in Nevada.

Anything we can do to improve that efficiency and moving people and goods really has a bottom-line impact, added Tony Illia, a spokesman with the department.

The high volume of tourists visiting Sin City every week, coupled with the state s growing population, were catalysts for the project, explained Paul Moradkhan, vice president of government affairs at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce . According to data presented by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the state experienced a 31.8% population growth rate from 2000 to 2010 . That was followed by a population growth of 8.5% from 2011 to 2016.

There s several key factors that always come up in this conversation .

It s congestion . It s travel of goods . It s safety, the creation of jobs, travel delays, Moradkhan said .

All those will be addressed with the construction, and reconfiguration of Project Neon.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a staunch supporter of Project Neon, boasts about her city s place as an exemplar for intermodal freight transportation . Las Vegas is part of a trend, with Newark, N.J., and Denver, among cities that have enhanced commercial transportation.

A Model

Mayor Carolyn Goodman

Goodman

Goodman noted those steady transportation enhancements have earned the city praise from peers at the U.S . Conference of Mayors .

Also, national leaders, such as former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, had told officials to study Las Vegas modernization efforts . Foxx, formerly mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as secretary had championed the need for enhancing capacity along I-15 beyond the metropolitan area.

For Project Neon, the mayor s hope is similar to DeLong s . Basically, the goal of the project is to open up the clog of two lanes in each direction at the Spaghetti Bowl, she said during an interview on April 30 at her downtown office.

After Project Neon, attention will need to turn to other infrastructure needs, she cautioned .

The American Society of Civil Engineers graded the state s infrastructure a C-minus in 2014, calling for additional work to enhance mobility in urban and rural areas.

Every city in this country pretty much has the same issues every other city has . But, sadly, all of us have to go to the top of the mountain and look singularly at a prioritized list of what s the most important . The first one is safety, the mayor said, and right under that is the horrible condition of the infrastructure in this country .

And you gotta fix it.

Road vs Rail in the Budget

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison seems to reckon it s road vs rail in the Budget he handed down this week . Increased infrastructure spending was announced as part of Tuesday s Budget and sees items from the rail freight industry s wish list getting the green light at the same time as vital spending on new and improved rest areas for trucks get cut back.

Road vs Rail in the Budget

The Australian Logistics Council welcomed key freight infrastructure investments contained in the Budget, which will help lay the groundwork for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. 1

There is a commitment of $400 million for the duplication of the freight rail line at Port Botany, boosting the use of short-haul rail from the port to intermodal terminals like the new Moorebank development . There is also an investment being made in Queensland s North Coast Rail Line, which will help assist freight rail efficiency in that state.

At the same time Government has said it only expects to spend $46.4 million of its $60 million budget for truck rest areas and other productivity projects in 2017-18.

Australian Trucking Association CEO, Ben Maguire, said the figures, buried on page 30 of the Treasury portfolio budget statement, showed the Government needed to focus on delivering its budget commitments as well as announcing them.

The fatigue laws require truck drivers to take regular breaks, but there still aren t enough truck rest areas in the right places, said Maguire .

When rest areas are available, they are, all too often, filled up with caravans . Their condition can be shocking.

Over the weekend, I travelled from Dubbo to Melbourne with well-known drivers advocate Rod Hannifey . Rod pointed out the many areas where rest areas could have been built at low cost in conjunction with road upgrades .

These opportunities were not taken.

Rod also pointed out that too many rest areas do not include basic amenities like toilets, lighting, water and shade . Access to toilets, lighting and water are basic rights . Office workplaces, including for the ATA and government agencies, do not compromise on the provision of these basic rights.

Road vs Rail in the Budget

Our roads and rest areas are a driver s workplace, and we have little chance of resolving fatigue if we do not provide drivers with the basics they need to do their job of moving Australia s freight to homes and businesses.

The Government s own budget documents show that it expects to be $13.6 million behind on rest area spending in 2017-18 .

The Government needs to focus on delivering its budget commitments and fixing the real problems that Australia s truck drivers face on the roads whenever they need to take a break.

References

  1. ^ National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy (www.swiftpage4.com)
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