Budget cutbacks accelerate workplace parking tax plans
07 September 2010
Workplace parking levies are set to become a nationwide epidemic, after it emerged that plans to charge employers for staff parking spaces are embedded into local transport consultation documents.
Although Nottingham has already confirmed a scheme, and Bristol is set to follow, councils including South Somerset, Wiltshire and Bournemouth have confirmed that a WPL is buried in their transport plan consultation, while the Local Government Association has admitted that councils are considering schemes as a way of topping up budgets slashed by Government spending cuts.
"Councils are set to receive significantly less money from the Government and will therefore have to look at new ways to continue providing the important services upon which millions of people rely," said Cllr David Sparks, chair of the LGA transport regeneration board.
The Department for Transport refused to rule out the moves, despite a declared end to the 'war on the motorist' as a revenue-raising tool, with the department leaving it to local councils to decide whether schemes are appropriate in their area. "We are looking at how best to ensure the views of local business are represented," said a spokesman.
Meanwhile, leasing firm Masterlease has predicted a change in behaviour from fleets in Nottingham, where the UK's first workplace parking levy will be introduced in April 2012. "Fleet cars that remain in their space overnight will be exempt from the proposed tax as they are not used for commuting to and from work," said Masterlease marketing director Robert Kingdom. "So companies could rethink their fleet strategy and change to a pool car-based model, encouraging employees to commute to work on public transport and then have the use of the pool car during the day."
Kingdom also speculated that the lure of a free car parking space could become a recruitment or retention tool in areas where schemes have been introduced.
"Whatever happens, introducing this kind of scheme would involve a big culture change for many organisations. The reality is that many firms rely heavily on their company cars, especially in those organisations where business travel is a necessity, such as sales-based functions," he said. "So until our public transport network improves and prices fall into line with the rest of Europe, the company car is still the only viable option."
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