New council power

Business dismayed as MSPs back car park levy

David Lonsdale
David Lonsdale: a charter for extra cost (pic: Terry Murden)

Business groups responded with dismay after MSPs voted to give Scotland’s councils a new power to introduce parking levies on office and factory car parks. 

The decision by the parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee to approve the Workplace Parking Levy was described as a ‘tax on workers’ and an added cost burden for companies. Scottish Labour said it would continue to demand the levy is dropped.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Workplace parking levies are a charter for extra cost and complexity, and it is disappointing that MSPs have backed them.

“The introduction of any levies will see firms taxed twice for the parking places they provide for staff, on top of the business rates already paid on those spaces.

“However, the failure to impose any cap on what can be charged or appropriately assess the business impact of the scheme means there can be little certainty on the effect of these proposals – it’s quite possible MSPs may well have voted for a pig in a poke.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Scotland’s businesses will be incredibly disappointed that the committee didn’t recommend scrapping or further deferring the Workplace Parking Levy.

“Rather than supporting Scotland’s economic recovery from the pandemic, this additional financial burden on businesses and their employees’ risks undermining growth.

“Businesses are just starting to recover from the severe financial impact of the past two years and employees are facing a rising cost-of-living crisis, neither can afford uncapped charges being placed on them for simply using their car to commute.”

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Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said:  “The SNP’s decision to hit workers with this levy while train and bus services are under threat is the wrong solution at the wrong time, and will raid the pockets of people already struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“The new transport minister can’t answer basic questions about the what the scheme will mean for workers, leaving people at risk of extortionate charges to plug the cuts the SNP have inflicted on Council budgets. 

“We need to drop these misguided plans and take immediate action to improve access to safe, green and affordable public transport.

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“This damaging Commuter Tax will undermine support for the climate action that we all need to see and leave those who can least afford it to bear the costs.”

Shadow Transport Minister, Graham Simpson, who tabled a motion to annul the policy, described the levy as a “senseless tax [that] will hit businesses and workers hard.”

SNP MSP Jackie Dunbar said: “We’re providing a power to Scottish local authorities that councils in England and Wales have enjoyed for years, with Nottingham City Council so far making use of them and other authorities, including Oxford and Leicester, also considering their use
 
“Once again, Labour and the Tories are demonstrating that they have nothing positive to present to the people of Scotland, but just operate as opposition for opposition’s sake.



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