SNP Ministers Deny Workplace Parking Charges Are ‘Workers’ Tax’

Concerns have been raised about the impact of the parking fee in the workplace. Pictured: Jason Chadwick

Transportation Minister Jenny Gilruth defended the scheme as a last-ditch attempt to derail it, but the MSP voted against it.

Scottish Conservative MP Graeme Simpson has pushed for the abolition of workplace parking fees.

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He insisted it was “not the right time” for plans, adding: “This is an attack on employers, this is bad for employees, this is bad for jobs, this is bad for the recovery from the pandemic.

“Now is not the right time for business, it is not the right time for staff, and this needs to stop.”

Ms Gilruth said the Tory MSP is trying to strip Scottish councils of the same powers as their counterparts in England.

The scheme, due to go into effect next month, would allow councils to charge employers for office parking spaces. Firms could then pass these costs on to staff.

Nottingham was the first council in the UK to introduce the measure in 2012 and charges £428 a year per seat.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are interested in following suit.

But business leaders have expressed concern about the move, with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce pushing for it to be “reversed or at least postponed.”

The Scottish Government agreed to hand over the power to councils to introduce workplace parking fees as early as 2019 as part of a budget deal with the Scottish Greens.

Holyrood will continue discussing the proposals on Wednesday, but before that the Tories were forced to vote on the issue in the Scottish parliamentary committee Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Ms Gilruth said the rules Mr Simpson was trying to repeal simply contain “a detail that gives local authorities the power to enact laws passed three years ago.”

She added: “This is historic legislation and the reason it hasn’t been passed so far is because of Covid.”

Scottish Labor MP Monica Lennon pointed to “sincere fears” that the parking levy would “punish the workers”.

Ms. Lennon asked, “What reassurance can you give to workers today that it won’t lead them into more poverty and into this deep cost-of-living crisis?”

Ms Gilruth said: “It is important to remember that the charge itself, the workplace parking fee, is the responsibility of employers, not employees.

“And it’s a question for employers whether they pass these costs on to employees. So it’s not a tax on workers per se.”

Mr. Simpson called for additional exemptions at the national level. NHS real estate, GP surgeries, hospices and disabled parking spaces are already exempt from the tax.

Ms Gilruth said any other exceptions should be decided by the councils.

Scottish Conservative MP Liam Kerr called it “extraordinary” that the government failed to model the impact of the scheme.

Ms Gilruth said ministers “can’t model what doesn’t exist” in Scotland and spoke of the Nottingham experience.

Scott Green MP Mark Ruskell said councils should be empowered and insisted the climate emergency had “accelerated”.

He said: “I’m really afraid that this debate this morning was a waste of time.”

The MSPs in the committee voted against Mr. Simpson’s proposal for annulment by four votes to three, with the SNP and the Greens supporting the collection.

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