Workplace parking levy: Charge could be up to £650 a year, raising £19 million for transport investment

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Labour vows to protect low-paid staff and shift workers

New parking charges to discourage people from driving to work in Edinburgh could raise up to £19 million a year for investment in the city’s transport infrastructure, the council has said.

A new report setting out options on a possible Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) for the city reveals that charges could be between £450 and £650.

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Transport convener Scott Arthur said if a levy were introduced the council administration would work to ensure the charges did not hit those in low-paid jobs or shift workers. And he said there would have to be measures to prevent people parking in nearby residential streets or elsewhere to avoid the levy.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government gave local authorities powers to roll-out WPL schemes which would see employers charged for parking spaces provided for staff. It would be up to the employer to decide whether to pass on the cost to workers. NHS premises and hospices are exempt under the legislation.

The report sets out options ranging from a scheme which would cover the city centre only to one taking in the entire area within the city boundary, as well as annual charges between £450 and £650 per space and also possible exemptions for organisations with less than 50 spaces or less than 10 spaces.

Officials have estimated that up to £13.8m could be generated if the WPL boundary encompassed the entire city with businesses with fewer than 50 spaces exempt. If the scheme was restricted to the city centre, it would raise just £1.92m; an “extended city centre” taking in Leith Walk and Inverleith would increase the yield to up to £3.16m.

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And according to the report the maximum amount raised by applying the levy to all Edinburgh workplaces with no exemptions would be £18.9m. That could allow the council to borrow upwards of £100m for investment in Edinburgh’s transport network.

A workplace parking levy could raise up to £19m for investment in the transport network.  Picture: Lisa Ferguson.A workplace parking levy could raise up to £19m for investment in the transport network.  Picture: Lisa Ferguson.
A workplace parking levy could raise up to £19m for investment in the transport network. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

Councillors voted overwhelmingly in July to explore a WPL scheme further and the transport and environment committee next week is expected to agree to progress plans and begin engagement with stakeholders. The earliest a levy could be introduced would be early 2025.

The city’s minority Labour administration did not include proposals for a WPL in their manifesto for this year’s local elections, but Cllr Arthur said it would “have to accept the democratic wishes of the council”.

But he added: “If it’s going to go ahead it’s our duty to make it work as much as possible for the city.” He said his priorities are ensuring the WPL did not negatively impact people in low-paid jobs and those who work shifts. And he added a plan to ensure parking is not simply displaced to streets surrounding workplaces will need to be put in place.

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He argued the annual base charge for workplace parking “should be higher than a bus pass” to encourage more people to use public transport.

“Any funding will be spent on delivering our transport strategy, so if we were to set a level for the levy it would make sense for it to be more than the current bus pass rate in Edinburgh to encourage people to make that decision. Over the next few days we’ll be speaking to trade unions about how we nuance this. It’s about making sure we can manage the negative aspects and take it forward.

“It seems likely that the opposition parties will agree to progress a workplace parking levy next week. What we’ll say next week is we would expect any business model, any plan going for consultation, any plan going for implementation to have due consideration about how we protect people on low pay, how we protect people working shifts and a clear plan for how we deal with displacement parking.”