​Scottish Labour putting brakes on the Workplace Parking Levy - Steve Cardownie

​So the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) online survey is underway and is due to run for 12 weeks. If agreed, this would entail a charge being imposed on employers for the car park spaces they make available, currently free of charge, to their employees.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are among Scottish councils considering introducing a workplace parking levy. Picture: Lisa FergusonEdinburgh and Glasgow are among Scottish councils considering introducing a workplace parking levy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Edinburgh and Glasgow are among Scottish councils considering introducing a workplace parking levy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

​This forms part of the general strategy of the City of Edinburgh Council to discourage car use and encourage (force?) people to use public transport.

It will be up to the employer whether such a charge should be passed on to the employee or not.

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It is anticipated that the annual revenue generated for the City Council should hit around the £11 million mark with those affected expected to cough up roughly £650 per space once a year with this additional money in the Council’s coffers being spent on transport initiatives within the city boundary.

The only city in the UK to apply a WPL, Nottingham, raised over £25 million in its first three years which, of course, played no part in the thinking of Edinburgh councillors when contemplating their own scheme. Believe that if you will!

This issue has got the minority Labour administration up in the High Street in a bit of a bind, however, as they have been reined in by their political bosses in the shape of the Labour Party’s Scottish Executive and have had their knuckles rapped for agreeing to such a proposal in the first place.

The City’s Transport Convenor, Councillor Scott Arthur, used to speak from a burning bush about the benefit of such a levy but has been trying to apply the brakes on its potential introduction ever since Scottish Labour’s weighty intervention.

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It took the view that the charge would likely be passed on by employers to already hard-up employees, adding to the financial hardships they were currently enduring. A view that is difficult to discount.

The BBC reported that in Nottingham “eight out of ten workers have the cost passed on to them.”

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre used the Nottingham example for a “tentative estimate” of how many workplace parking spaces would be liable for the WPL in Edinburgh and arrived at a figure of 39,000.

With a workforce of more than 330,000 in the city the vast majority would remain unaffected - which is likely to provide scant consolation for those who will have to cough up.

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The Scottish Chamber of Commerce is not buying the argument that the initiative is about improving the environment either and is convinced that it is more to do with boosting the public purse than any altruistic motive.

If, as it contends, that this is last thing employers need as they still deal with the financial pressures post pandemic, makes it even more likely they will instruct their employees to stump up.

The outcome of the consultation exercise will be known in March next year when the Transport Committee will have to decide to pull the plug or press on and work up detailed proposals.

However, the Convenor of the committee will be hoping for an easy way out because, despite his personal preference for such a levy, his party is unlikely to back down and will maintain their opposition to the scheme.