Advice for Edinburgh on workplace parking levy: Keep it simple - don’t have too many exemptions

EXEMPTIONS from a workplace parking levy should be kept to a minimum, the transport boss from the only UK city to operate such a scheme has advised.

Thursday, 23rd May 2019, 6:00 am
Nottingham City Council's transport chief has advised limited exemptions from the Edinburgh workplace parking levy.

Plans to hand councils in Scotland the power to introduce the levies have sparked demands that the charge should not apply to police officers, teachers and other groups. The proposals already exempt NHS staff.

But giving evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee by video link, Chris Carter, head of transport strategy at Nottingham City Council, urged councils looking at a levy to keep it simple.

He said frontline NHS sites like hospitals were the only significant exemptions from the Nottingham scheme.

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Mr Carter told MSPs: “The beauty of the WPL is it is flexible you can have different exemptions to meet your own needs. “The only thing I would say is the other strength of WPL is its simplicity, therefore if you introduce too many exemptions it becomes too complicated and you lose a lot of the benefits of the scheme.”

And Professor Stephen Ison, professor of transport policy at Loughborough University, who appeared alongside him, added: “A simple scheme, at least in the first instance, is very important.”

The exemptions proposed for any workplace parking levy in Scotland are all NHS properties, GP surgeries and hospices.

The move to allow levies was part of the budget deal agreed earlier this year between the SNP and the Greens. Edinburgh is one of the councils which has backed the idea.

Green MSP John Finnie has tabled an amendment to the Transport Bill currently going through parliament which would give local authorities the necessary powers.

At the rural economy and connectivity committee, Labour MSP Colin Smyth voiced concerns about the impact of the levy on low-paid workers. He questioned why a Nottingham council employee on the living wage should pay the same as the chief executive.

But Mr Carter said: “That’s not the way it works because the levy is a charge on the employer. The employer pays the actual charge. It’s up to the employer how - or if at all - it pass it on to the employees.

“The city council charges different amounts for different car parks in different parts of the city and it does change the amount people pay depending on their salary. There are other employers who have similar schemes or quite different schemes. It’s really up to the employer to decide.”

He said the council passed on examples to show how employers could pass on the charge if they decided to do so.

Prof Ison added: “There are organisations that have very sophisticated of allocating the charge to their workforce based on salary and also the vehicle’s engine size so they have a sliding scale taking all that into account. So you could be paying an awful lot or very little, depending on what your salary is and what type of vehicle you’re using.”