Introduce Workplace Parking Levies, or a wider Premises Parking Levy, in Scotland’s cities
Using the powers in the 2019 Transport Act to introduce Workplace Parking Levies (WPL) in Scotland’s larger urban areas, would reduce car commuting and raise revenue dedicated to public transport and active travel investment.
A scheme of this type in Nottingham has raised £83m in its first decade, all of which has gone back into transport improvements in the city, principally the provision of electric buses and the extension of the tram network.187 The scheme covers around 40% of the workplace parking spaces in the city, with employers providing more than 10 spaces currently paying £458 a year for each parking space included in the scheme.188 Evidence is clear that people on higher incomes are more likely to drive to city-centre work with a dedicated free parking space. However, any workplace parking levy should be carefully designed to prevent employers from unfairly passing on the cost to low-paid workers for whom car use is essential to the delivery of their job. Equalities safeguards are also important, particularly for disabled people (exempt in the Nottingham scheme) and people with childcare/school or other caring responsibilities. Any scheme should require employers to have fair green travel to work/in work plans negotiated with the relevant recognised trade unions.
The aim of the scheme would be to reduce car commuting. Firms might also decide to reduce their number of employee parking spaces so that they reduce costs or fall below the 10 space threshold.
The powers to implement this measure are in the hands of local authorities but so far only Edinburgh and Glasgow are actively considering introducing a WPL. In Edinburgh about 31,000 spaces, eventually charged at a similar rate to the Nottingham scheme would bring in about £14m a year, with Glasgow estimating £30m for a city-wide scheme. The Glasgow scheme is estimated to cost £1m-£1.6m to set up.189 The Scottish Government should work with local authorities to help fund the development and delivery of schemes, and to promote their acceptability with the public and with local politicians.
In order to deter further car-based development, and gradually reduce existing, the WPL should be expanded to a wider ‘Premises Levy.’ This would be a charge on businesses such as large retail and leisure, based on the number of (non-disabled) customer car spaces over a certain minimum. Businesses would then be incentivised to encourage customer modal shift to public transport and active travel, enabling the business to regain valuable land-space and thus reduce their levy payment. Businesses might alternatively decide to pass on part or all of the levy to customers but might be reluctant to do so for fear of losing custom. Whichever approach they took, there would be encouragement of modal shift. A beneficial side-effect would be to discourage out-of-town development and encourage more local living.
The concept of a wider premises levy has been widely discussed, but, unfortunately, was rejected by the Scottish Government when the WPL powers were introduced. Such a levy (though outof- town only) is again proposed in the Scottish Government’s A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres (section 73d).190 Making the levy applicable to in-town as well as out-of-town would lessen the risk (mentioned in 73d) of induced additional town-centre car traffic.
For further information:
- Financing Climate Justice, https://www.stopclimatechaos.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ FinancingClimateJustice_Report_ONLINE.pdf
How Nottingham used a parking levy to cut congestion and raise millions’, Friends of the Earth, 2021, https://takeclimateaction.uk/ climate-action/how-nottingham-used-parking-levy-cut-congestion-and-raise-millions
Workplace parking guidance, Nottingham City Council, 2022, https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/information-for-residents/transportparking- and-streets/workplace-parking-levy-1/#:~:text=Nottingham%20City%20Council%20%2D%20Home&text=All%20employers%20 providing%20workplace%20parking,have%20to%
Glasgow Transport Strategy update in papers for Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction City Policy Committee, Glasgow City Council, 1st February 2022, https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/viewSelectedPack.asp?c=P6J5FQDX0G2UT181
A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres, Scottish Government, 2021, https://www.gov.scot/publications/new-future-scotlands-towncentres/ pages/7/