As if the tax laws and costs surrounding employees who drive to work weren’t painful enough, now an additional ‘workplace parking levy’ (WPL) is being introduced that forces business owners to pay £250 per parking space provided to staff.
The first council to introduce the fee, which will apply to any firm with more than 10 employee parking spaces, is Nottingham. It’s bringing in the charge from 2012 – and Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Exeter, Cambridge and Oxford may all follow soon after, having all voiced interest. (The decision to implement the scheme in a city rests with the local council rather the the government.)
To make matters worse, the fee could go up to £350 after two years. Employers would be entitled to pass the cost onto their staff rather than pay it themselves - but this is hardly a good motivational tactic.
While the scheme has been introduced as an alternative to the congestion charge and has environmental aims at its heart, it is being viewed by small business lobby groups as grossly unfair and potentially very damaging to small businesses.
"Some employees have no choice but to drive to work, which means that getting rid of parking is simply not an option for most small businesses,” said Phil Orford, chief exeutive of the Forum of Private Business. "WPL schemes would cost them thousands of pounds per year and local economies could be seriously hurt as a result.
"The imposition of steep parking charges is a huge issue for high street retailers, which are experiencing a significant decline in trade. Often, local councils readily place short-term revenue-raising above facilitating real economic growth. This stealth tax on parking smacks of more of the same."
If you’re a small business operating in one of the councils listed above and are concerned about the WPL, write to your local MP or to the transport minister, Sadiq Khan.
Image: Mark Brown esq