Business leaders call for workplace parking levy to be scrapped

Controversial plans to give councils the power to introduce workplace parking charges should be “scrapped or, at a minimum, further deferred,” business leaders have said.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) said many firms are still recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, which has “severely reduced trade and significantly increased costs over the past two years”.

MSPs on Holyrood’s net zero, energy and transport committee will consider a last-ditch bid by the Scottish Conservatives to scrap the move next week.

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Concerns have been raised about the impact of the workplace parking levy. Picture: Jason Chadwick
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Workplace parking levy (WPL) schemes will enable councils to charge employers for office parking spaces.

Nottingham became the first council in the UK to introduce the measure in 2012, and charges £428 a year per space.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are among those interested in following suit.

In a letter to the Holyrood committee, SCC director Liz Cameron criticised the “additional financial burden it places on businesses and their employees”.

She warned that without any cap being placed on the levy, “businesses face a postcode lottery on charges”, adding that East Midlands Chamber of Commerce had found “evidence of businesses having to make people redundant in order to pay the levy, reduce their investments or relocate entirely” following the Nottingham scheme.

She said: “To support Scotland’s businesses and economic recovery, SCC believe the WPL should be scrapped or, at a minimum, further deferred.”

The Food and Drink Federation Scotland warned the charges will pile "yet another financial burden" on producers and divert money from jobs and investment.

Chief executive David Thomson said one of its members had calculated the scheme would slice more than 5 per cent off their profits at a time of “huge financial pressure".

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He said parking levies should not be introduced where there is a lack of credible public transport options or safety concerns about employees commuting to work, or where a business has a car park that “accounts for shift patterns”.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said the body remained concerned the levies were “a recipe for extra cost and complexity”.

He told MSPs: "This is especially so as firms already pay business rates on the parking places they provide for staff, and so could be taxed twice for such parking spaces.

"This may lead some employers to consider whether they ought to recoup some or all of the cost of the levy from staff, so this policy could well have a bearing on the cost of living and/or the ability of employers to retain or recruit staff.”

He called for any implementation to be paused over the coming financial year to aid recovery from the pandemic.

MSPs on the committee will consider the Tory bid to scrap the plans on Tuesday.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Providing local authorities with discretionary powers to implement a workplace parking levy scheme supports our commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030.

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“These powers are already available to local authorities in England and Wales. Any revenue raised by WPL must be used to support the objectives of local transport strategies, which can support greener transport choices and affordable public transport.

“Local authorities will be required to undertake a public consultation and impact assessments, including on the licensing charge, before implementing a WPL scheme.”



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