SNP must perform a U-turn over Car Park Tax – Miles Briggs

Miles Briggs is a Conservative MSP for Lothian Region
Miles Briggs is a Conservative MSP for Lothian Region
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In all my time as an MSP I have never witnessed such a negative reaction from members of the public as the outrage we have seen against the SNP Car Park Tax.

Last week, as part of the Budget, the SNP introduced a tax on people who drive their car to work. The tax gives local councils the option to introduce a charge on commuters driving to work which has been estimated at £500 per year.

The SNP has already admitted that there has been no consultation on this new tax and as each day passes SNP minsters seem to be digging themselves into deeper holes because there is so little detail on who would have to pay this tax.

The SNP announced that NHS workers would be exempt, but what about teachers? And, classed as technically self-employed, what about GPs? Will Scotland’s hospices be exempt? As Marie Curie has already highlighted, the impact of this tax on hospices, charitable enterprises, will be significant and inevitably reduces the amount of support charities can give to their clients.

This highlights just one unfairness of this tax.

Another unfairness, is that this is a ridiculously regressive tax. It will cost someone on the Living wage just as much as someone in the top tax bracket. Unions are opposed to this tax as it is the lowest income workers that will be hit hardest by this tax.

Yet another unfairness is that commuters living outside a city will have to pay the Car Park Tax in a council area in which they do not vote.

Many of my constituents who live in West, Mid and East Lothian drive to their work in the Capital.

Last year alone Edinburgh saw 12,381 commuters from West Lothian, 10,316 commuters from Midlothian, 10,070 commuters from East Lothian. These figures show that tens of thousands of workers will be hit by a charge they have not voted for, with £500 straight out of their pay cheque, just for getting to work.

In many areas, public transport cannot provide a solution. Driving to work is the only option for some workers, particularly rural workers and shift workers.

The impact the SNP Car Park Tax will have on hard-working families across my own Lothian Region is clear.

Many people who live in West, Mid and East Lothian but who work in Edinburgh have looked to take advantage of cheaper house prices by moving out to other parts of Lothian, the Borders and Fife.

The fundamental fact is this tax will hit hard-working Scots who play by the rules, work hard and who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.

The SNP Car Park Tax is a complete mess. It’s time the SNP, for once, listened to people and think again. Scottish Conservatives have launched a petition opposing the SNP Car Park Tax, calling for SNP ministers to think again on this fundamentally unfair tax. I hope Edinburgh Evening News readers will lend their support to the petition and tell the SNP they need to think again:

Miles Briggs is a Conservative MSP for Lothian Region