Workplace parking levy: Why SNP will regret refusing to exempt low-paid – Murdo Fraser

If there was anywhere that SNP MSPs wanted to be last week, it certainly wasn’t in the Holyrood Chamber voting down a series of amendments put forward by Conservative MSPs to exempt key workers from the proposed car park tax.

NHS staff like those parking at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be exempt from the new levy (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

This is the “Workplace Parking Levy”, a policy enthusiastically put forward by the SNP’s Finance Secretary as part of his budget deal with the Greens last year.

It means that councils will have the power to charge a tax on car park spaces at work which could cost workers using their cars to commute up to £500 a year.

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Whilst leaving the detailed design of the tax up to the local council, the Scottish Government decreed that NHS workers should be exempt.

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Why, then, asked my Conservative colleagues, should the same exemption not apply to other parts of the public sector, such as teachers, emergency service workers, the police, or, for that matter, those in low-paid private sector jobs such as in security, hospitality or care?

One by one, Conservative amendments to protect those in public sector jobs, the low-paid, the disabled, or those driving electric vehicles were voted down by SNP MSPs.

With SNP-run councils like Edinburgh and Glasgow keen to see the car park tax introduced, it will be clear where the fault lies for the introduction of this regressive, unfair tax which will hit the poorest hardest: it will rest firmly at the door of SNP politicians in Holyrood.

I look forward to them defending their actions at the next set of elections.