Workplace Charging Scheme: a complete guide for employers

Find out how you can use the Workplace Charging Scheme to subsidise your business’ sustainability journey; including how to apply and what the savings are.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Through the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), SMEs can get a discount on electric vehicle (EV) chargers for employee vehicles or commercial fleets. Think of it as a modern, eco-friendly alternative to letting employees claim for a fuel allowance.

It is an important scheme for progressive employers to be aware of – especially as government legislation puts more pressure on firms to cut down on carbon emissions.

Applying to the WCS will save these companies thousands; particularly those with commercial fleets. The grant covers up to 75% of the costs around the purchase and installation of EV charge points (inclusive of VAT).

Like many government initiatives, applying for the WCS is not an easy process. But UK businesses don’t have time to wait around as the grant is due to end on 31 March 2024.

Below, we’ll go through all the fiddly need-to-knows of the WCS, including how to apply and who is eligible. Plus, if you’re looking for other ways to save on running your business fleet, we’ll also highlight the alternative solutions available, such as fuel cards.

What is the Workplace Charging Scheme?

The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that was introduced by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) last year.

It is designed to encourage more firms to invest in EVs by covering up to 75% of the total costs of the purchase and installation of charging sockets (inclusive of VAT). You can get up to £350 per point, for 40 sockets across all sites, per applicant.

Example: If a cafe franchise has four locations across rural Yorkshire, and wants to make use of every EV sockets at every site, it could use the WCS to install up to five sockets per site.

Remember: you don’t have to send an application for all 40 sockets in one go. If you apply for five sockets in May, but the business grows significantly in six months, you can keep submitting as many applications as you'd like until the limit is reached (or until the scheme runs out on March 31 2024).

Am I eligible for the Workplace Charging Scheme?

There are several stipulations as to who can apply for the WCS. We’ve broken them down into three key areas:

1. Funding

The firm must not have received over £325,000 in government aid (also known as the Special Drawing Rights limit) in the past three fiscal years (including the current tax year).

2. Parking infrastructure

Applicants must have:

  • Dedicated off-street parking for staff/fleet that can be used for workplace EV charging
  • Parking facilities at the site or a reasonable distance from the workplace
  • Ownership of the property/consent from the landlord for charge points to be installed

3. Location

The Workplace Charging Scheme is only available for companies registered with Companies House and based in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

If you are a small business based in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man, you cannot claim for WCS.

I work from home. Can I still apply?

Yes, so long as your home address is listed as your place of business on Companies House. Alternatively, it must be recorded on your small business rate bill.

I'm not eligible for the WCS. What are my options?

If you cannot apply to the WCS for your business, but you still want a more sustainable fleet, managers can make their money back using other, fuel-saving tech such as vehicle tracking software.

Generally boasting low upfront costs, these can be used to evaluate where vehicles might be travelling inefficiently, bringing substantial cost savings.

Workplace charging vs fleet charging vs commercial charging: what’s the difference?

There are a number of charging solutions that modern businesses can choose to use the WSC for. Here’s how they differ:

Swipe right to see more
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Workplace charging

Fleet charging

Commercial charging

What is it?

Employees charging their personal EV while at work

What is it?

Employees charging a company EV for business use

What is it?

Customers charging their vehicles using your paid-for EV sockets

Can I use the WCS to claim for this use?

Yes

Can I use the WCS to claim for this use?

Yes

Can I use the WCS to claim for this use?

No, unless they are a small accommodation business with fewer than 249 employees).

How to apply for the Workplace Charging Scheme: a 5 step guide

Pastel Modern 5 Steps Build Support System at Workplace Graph (1)

👣Step 1: Find the WCS online application form on the GOV.uk website

👣Step 2: Answer the eligibility questions given (these are mostly ‘yes/no’)

👣Step 3: Confirm your Companies House ID and business address

👣Step 4: Provide site location details for the chargepoint sockets (you can add multiple locations at this point)

👣Step 5: Provide contact details for the applicant and submit your application

Successful applicants will receive their unique voucher code by email within five working days, so you won’t have to wait long to get started with setting up your workplace charging. Once you get a code, you can redeem it against sockets from a list of government-authorised installers. 

Thankfully, because it is up to the authorised installer to claim the money back from the government, the business does not have to worry about any delays on claims.

OZEV will then pass the discount back to the installer, who will add it to your final invoice. This is an excellent safety net for small business owners, many of whom operate with reduced cash flow.

How long is the voucher valid for?

You’ll have to act quickly to get your WCS discount as the voucher is only valid for a maximum of 180 days. The chargepoint installation must be completed in this time slot for the discount to apply.

How much does it cost to buy electric vehicle charging points?

On average, it costs around £1,000 to install a fast charger with 7kW to 22kW of power. These are able to charge a fully electric vehicle in anything from two to four hours. Slower charges can take up to 12 hours to completely charge a long-range EV.

We recommend that businesses using electric vehicle charging units for commercial fleets invest in faster chargers, which will ensure they can go about their daily business.

Couriers, for example, will experience a complete breakdown in operations if their vehicles are regularly running out of battery and are unable to travel to customers.

How much will the Workplace Charging Scheme save me?

The Workplace Charging Scheme reduces the cost of an EV charging point by up to £350. If purchase and installation costs £1,000, the WCS drops this price to £650.

Companies can buy up to 40 sockets through the scheme, which means they could save up to £14,000.

How many electric charge points does my business need?

The number of charging points a firm needs depends on factors such as size, location, and operating hours. Currently, EV sockets are not available to 52% of company drivers in the UK.

However, the UK government has committed to a workplace EV driving policy which states that, by 2025, all non-residential car parks need at least one EV charging unit for every 20 parking bays. This is a good impetus for investing in a suitable number of sockets now.

Why should small businesses invest in EVs?

The UK’s focus on reducing pollution – particularly in big cities – is sharpening. Sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in 2030. To align with the pollution policy, public and private sector transport needs a fundamental change to become cleaner..

Now is a good time to commit to more electric vehicles – especially vans – and build them into the workforce as standard.

EVs promise a measurable drop in company carbon emissions, and businesses can use EVs to report on where their carbon savings are being made. These efforts can then be showcased to customers, staff, and stakeholders.

Using commercial EVs: case study

Packfleet is an ethical courier service based in London. Its fleet is currently made up of 53 vans all of which are electric. Its CEO, Tristan Thomas, explains the challenges and opportunities of switching to EV.

Packfleet team photo

“We’ve just moved into a new warehouse which allows us to charge all our vans on site,” he tells Startups. “We’ll always build chargers into our depots to reduce the amount of times drivers need to stop and refill on the road.

“However, we do still need to know that we can charge our vans whilst on the road. Drivers have recently begun to notice the queues forming next to EV chargers on the street, suggesting the shortages of infrastructure are beginning to show.”

Despite the obstacles, Thomas thinks it’s important for the company to reduce its pollution contribution – for both the business and its audience.

The company recently reported findings that 46% of Londoners – its main customer base – prefer a retailer that uses electric vans for deliveries over one that uses diesel or petrol.

Is workplace charging an employee benefit?

Yes. If the employee charges the EV in a company car park, they won’t have to pay BIK (benefit-in-kind) tax on the charge – much cheaper than if they were charging it at home.

Similarly, if the employer pays for a vehicle charging point to be installed at the employee’s home, no BIK tax applies.

Are there other government grants available?

Alongside the OZEV Workplace Charging Scheme, firms can also apply for the EV infrastructure grant. Like the WCS, this covers up to 75% of the cost of any charge points.

It’s worth noting that  it also covers the installation of the infrastructure needed for the charge points to operate (eg. wiring or posts).

Applicants can get up to £350 per chargepoint socket installed (up to £15,000), as well as £500 per parking space (for a minimum of five spaces). Confusingly, both grants may be used for the same site but not the same charge points.

Can you claim mileage rates for an electric car?

Mileage rates can be used to claim back money on employees’ business travel. Currently, the rates are set at 45p per mile for petrol or diesel vehicles. Hybrid vehicles can request the same reimbursement.

The rules are different for fully electric vehicles. In March 2023, the rate rose from 8p per mile to 9p per mile. While this is still a sizable tax-free saving, it’s far from the generosity enjoyed by petrol or diesel drivers.

Fuel cards: another way to save on fleet costs

If you’re looking for ways to save on travel costs, you can also use fuel cards to reduce your bill. Drivers can fill up with discounted fuel at stations in the fuel card’s network.

Fuel cards can save firms up to 10p per litre. Plus, most small business fuel card providers charge a low annual rate of around £1 per month – a low-cost tool with great returns.

Next steps

Stricter pollution policies, combined with a cultural shift towards favouring sustainably-focused businesses, means EV-fleets will be the norm by the end of the decade.

The WCS provides a valuable initiative for firms seeking to adopt electric vehicles and invest in charging infrastructure, generating savings as high as £14,000.

There is still a lot of confusion about claiming the WCS, which is largely due to complex eligibility rules. With the scheme set to expire on March 31 2024, firms should act fast to ensure they can still take advantage of the discount and supercharge their green plans.

Our above guide provides a detailed breakdown of how to apply, as well as other grants available, so SMEs can start saving money and emissions as soon as possible.

“It would be wise to start building an electric fleet whilst you’re small”, advises Tristan Thomas. “There will be no need for scrambling to meet EV quotas if you’ve already made a start in advance of the new green legislation coming in.”

Workplace Charging Scheme FAQs
  • Is the Workplace Charging Scheme still available?
    Yes. The Workplace Charging Scheme is available for any business until 31 March 2024.
  • Is charging a car at work a benefit in kind?
    Yes. If an EV is owned by the employer, and an employee charges it in a company car park, they won’t have to pay BIK (benefit-in-kind) tax on the charge. Similarly, if the employer pays for a vehicle charging point to be installed at the employee’s home, no BIK tax applies.
  • Can employees charge my company for charging their car?
    No. Employees cannot ask employers to reimburse them for any charging costs if they are using a personal vehicle. However, if the car is a company vehicle, they can claim back a portion of their spend from the employer using mileage rates.
  • Is charging free in the UK?
    There are around 1,000 free electric car charge points in the UK. They are located at supermarkets, shopping centres, and public car parks. Otherwise, EV drivers are charged a minimum of £1, plus £0.19 per kWh, for a slow charger. This rises to £0.30 per kWh for a fast charger.
  • Can you claim 45p per mile for an electric car?
    No. Fully electric cars are not subject to the same mileage rates as petrol or diesel. From 1 March 2023, the advisory electricity rate for fully electric cars has risen to 9p per mile, which is considerably less than petrol or diesel cars. Hybrid car drivers can claim 45p per mile.
Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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