Calls to scrap parking levy
Mackay’s car park tax ‘could cost £400 for every worker’
Murdo Fraser: ‘tax is already falling apart’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Opposition MSPs have united to call for the SNP to abandon its car park tax, claiming it would cost workers £400 a year.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had “failed miserably” to provide any detail on the controversial plan, said the Scottish Tories finance spokesman Murdo Fraser.
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said Mr Mackay guilty of a “lack of preparation” before announcing the plan in a deal with the Greens that allowed the Budget to be voted through in parliament.
Mr Mackay faced a volley of questions during a heated debate at Holyrood and was forced to admit that no economic analysis had been undertaken, despite him making the idea a central part of the budget process.
It emerged that SNP MSP Joan McAlpine voiced her own opposition to the levy, saying that she didn’t want to see it in council areas in her South Scotland region.
The Scottish Conservatives have confirmed they will resist any moves to have the tax shoehorned into legislation through the upcoming Transport (Scotland) Bill.
Mr Mackay said there were no details because the plans are “at an early stage”. He then said: “No, I haven’t undertaken any individual economic analysis.”
Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey weighed in later by saying employers should pass on the charge to their employees.
Nottingham City Council has a workplace parking levy (WPL). Money raised has helped to fund phase two of the city’s tram system, which now carries more than 17m passengers a year, as well as the redevelopment of Nottingham Station. It also supports the popular bus network.
Employers, rather than employees, are responsible for paying any WPL charge, although employers can choose to reclaim part or all of the cost of the WPL from their employees. The charge for the year from April is £415 per parking space for employers who provide 11 or more liable places.
Mr Fraser said: “This is a tax imposed by Derek Mackay, yet he couldn’t answer any of the key questions surrounding it.
“He failed miserably to give workers and businesses the detail they are asking for, and even admitted he’d barely given the matter any thought before including it in his budget.
“This tax is already falling apart, which is no surprise from an idea concocted by the Greens and the SNP. Already some SNP MSPs are distancing themselves from it because they can see how utterly unfair and unworkable it is.
“Joan McAlpine even has the nerve to suggest it will impact everywhere except in the places she hopes people will vote for her.
“Nicola Sturgeon should ditch this scheme now, and start taking her budget leads from those who know, not the extremists in the Green Party.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats also called for the proposal to be ditched. Mr Rennie said: “It is astonishing that the Finance Secretary can’t even defend a central plank of his own budget settlement. The lack of preparation and the lack of answers to the big questions means we can’t possibly support this proposal. We’re not backing plans scribbled on the back of a car park ticket.
“There has been little thought of the impact on people who live in rural areas, on those who live in urban areas whose streets will be blocked with displaced vehicles and those who can’t get public transport to their work. There is a real tangle on who should be exempt whether that be teachers, NHS workers or any other type of worker.
“These plans for a workplace parking levy are ill-conceived and impractical. Even the Finance Secretary can’t find it in himself to back the plans even though he has promised to vote them through.
“The analysis is non-existence, the parameters are unclear, the consultation didn’t happen. This is not a progressive or effective tax.
“The Scottish Government and the Greens must ditch these dubious plans immediately. The budget agreement is fundamentally flawed.”