What is the Workplace Charging Scheme?

September 08, 2022 by

EV incentives may be less commonplace than they once were, but the Workplace Charging Scheme is still a worthwhile programme to be familiar with

The Plug-in Car Grant may now be a thing of the past, but it wasn’t the only Government-backed incentive scheme that aimed to encourage the uptake of electric cars.

The Workplace Charging Scheme, commonly referred to as the WCS, is a grant aimed at businesses, charities and public-sector organisations to encourage them to install EV chargepoints in office car parks and similar locations; this guide has all the details.

How does the Workplace Charging Scheme work?

Apologies in advance for all the initialisations, but the WCS is run by the Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), which is itself part of the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The WCS is actually administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), though.

The WCS sees grants of up to £350 issued to businesses per chargepoint socket, with up to 40 sockets per business being allowed, for an effective cap of £14,000 per company.

The ‘sockets’ referred to means a company can receive grants for 40 individual chargepoints with a single charging port, or 20 chargepoints with a double port.

These sockets can be installed at between one and 40 locations, so a company could put 40 in their main office car park, or install one at 40 individual sites they may operate.

The grant will pay for no more than 75% of a charger’s cost, but given many such chargepoints cost £800 or so, the £350 cap is effectively the one that is most often reached.

Organisations applying for the grant must have an electricity supply that is able to supply 3kW to each socket, with that rate being achievable when multiple vehicles are charging.

How to apply for the Workplace Charging Scheme

The WCS is a voucher-based system, and requires a company to complete an online application process on the Government’s website. Assuming a submission is approved, the applicant will then receive a unique voucher code, which can then be given to an approved chargepoint installer; the installer then instals the chargepoint(s), after which they can claim the grant from OZEV, who will reimburse them.

Are there any other advantages to the Workplace Charging Scheme?

With many chargepoints costing significantly more than £350, it’s fair to say that organisations making use of the WCS may well have to contribute some costs themselves.

But investment in EV chargers at work can be advantageous in and of itself, bringing several potential benefits.

Workplace chargers may well be seen as an attractive employee benefit, and while they may not directly attract new staff to your firm, if a job candidate is torn between two job offers, fringe benefits such as EV chargers can help sway a decision.

Staff who are eligible for a company car may also be more likely to choose an EV if their firm has chargers at work, reducing their Benefit-in-Kind company car tax obligations in the process. A similar principle applies to firms that offer an EV salary sacrifice scheme.

Firms operating commercial fleets may also see lower running costs if they switch to electric vehicles, while organisations with emission or sustainability targets may find other benefits.

Are there any restrictions for the Workplace Charging Scheme?

Aside from the cap of £350 per socket and 40 sockets, WCS vouchers expire after six months, meaning sockets must be installed and the installer claims back the grant from OZEV within that timeframe; miss the deadline and there will be no payment.

The scheme is open to registered businesses, charities or public sector organisations, with these stati being verified by the supply of a Companies House reference number or VAT registration number.

Chargepoints installed under the WCS must be intended for staff to use, or for company vehicles to be charged. Customer parking spaces are not eligible for the WCS, though as long as the primary use of the chargers is for staff or fleet use, local residents may use the chargers outside of office hours when they would not typically be used by the company.

Chargepoints must also be maintained and in place for at least three years after installation. If they are removed before that period, the DVLA must be informed, and grants can be claimed back.

Only approved installers can be used in order for the WCS to be valid, while only approved chargepoints can be used.

Organisations applying for the WCS must have authority to install sockets at their workplaces. IE if a company is in a rented office, the landlord must grant permission for the installation. Locations for WCS chargers must also have dedicated staff or fleet vehicle parking.

Because the WCS is considered a potential form of state aid, businesses or organisations that have received other forms of state aid may not be eligible for the scheme, as regulations prevent more than €200,000 (£173,000) of state aid being given over a three-year period to businesses.

Recipients of WCS money must also ensure that the chargepoints remain maintained and serviceable for three years after their installation date, while organisations must allow OZEV to collect anonymised data from the chargepoints, with this potentially being used to shape future Government policy.

Are there any other EV grants businesses should know about?

A separate EV infrastructure grant is also offered by OLEZ, and this can provide up to £15,000 towards the cost of installing the infrastructure required for EV chargepoints. The grant is for companies with 249 or fewer employees, and five grants per company can be applied for, though each must be for a different site.

The types of infrastructure this grant is aimed at include new electrical connections at supply points, and cabling ducting and routing. The infrastructure grant can be used at the same site as the WCS, though the grants must be for different chargepoints.

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