Scottish Daily Mail

You’re parking mad

Business leaders unite to demand workplace car tax bill is scrapped

- By Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

PLANS for a tax on parking at work should be binned to help firms survive as the lockdown is eased, according to business leaders.

The Confederat­ion of British Industry (CBI) in Scotland demanded a ‘review’ of the move amid fears it could stoke economic turmoil.

Councils have been handed the power to impose the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) and businesses could face steep bills that many believe will then be passed on to employees, who could pay more than £400 per year.

Staff returning to workplaces are more likely to travel by car because of the official guidance to avoid public transport to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Trains and buses will have less capacity because of the two-metre social distancing rule.

Firms will face the threat of huge WPL bills as they are attempting to trade again once restrictio­ns are eased, while many workers who have been hit with pay cuts during the lockdown will also be penalised by the levy.

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: ‘Reviewing the WPL now would be a relief to many businesses and send a positive message about Scotland as a place to live, work and to do business.

‘We already know the levy could have many unintended consequenc­es for firms and individual­s.’

SNP and Scottish Green MSPs were branded ‘out of touch’ last year after forcing through the WPL while lavishing £1.6million of taxpayers’ money on executive cars.

The parties had united to push through the car parking tax as part of the Scottish Government’s Transport Bill.

Last night, Scottish Tory economy spokesman Maurice Golden said: ‘Even when times were good, the car park tax should never have been considered.

‘But with the pressures brought on by coronaviru­s, it is even more illogical and damaging.

‘Businesses are right up against it and can ill afford the pressure the car park tax brings. On top of that, thousands of workers are being told the only safe way to get to work now is by car.

‘They can’t be hit in the pocket for taking that advice.’

Retailers have warned a tax on staff parking spaces would damage firms. The Scottish Retail Consortium predicted that the charge, if passed on to staff by employers, could force people to park in streets near their place of work, potentiall­y threatenin­g the safety of staff.

It said that even if employers do not pass on the costs, staff could still be hit by reductions in performanc­e-related pay.

The Scottish Wholesale Associatio­n disclosed that there had been unanimous opposition to the proposals in a survey of its members, while four in five said it would damage investment.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: ‘The Workplace Parking Levy, included in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, is a discretion­ary power which councils may choose to use – it is not mandatory.

‘It includes national exemptions for the NHS, hospices and blue badge holders, and local authoritie­s will have the flexibilit­y to apply further exemptions to meet local needs.’

 ??  ?? Plea: CBI chief Tracy Black
Plea: CBI chief Tracy Black
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