Drivers face £1,000 ‘tax’ on commuting under parking charge plans

More than a dozen English councils considering workplace parking levies despite warnings that poorest drivers will be hardest hit by ‘poll tax on wheels’

Commuters could face extra costs of up to £1,000 for driving to work under plans being considered by several councils.

More than a dozen local authorities in England are reportedly looking at introducing workplace parking levies as a way to cut urban congestion and pollution.

The plans have been slammed as a “poll tax on wheels” which will punish drivers simply for going to work.

According to the Daily Mail, 13 English councils are considering the levies, which charge businesses for every parking space they have. The charges are applied to the business but the AA and RAC have warned that, in practice, these costs are usually passed on to staff using the car parks.

The councils say the schemes are a way to discourage car use, cut air pollution and create funds for local transport initiatives but the motoring groups have warned that they punish staff who have no alternative means of getting to work and will hit the lowest-paid hardest.

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Nottingham is currently the only English council to impose a workplace parking levy, with businesses charged £428 per space and around 80% of employers passing the cost on to staff.

According to the Mail, Cambridge and Hounslow councils propose to charge up to £1,000 per space per year, raking in £13 million and £95m respectively, while Leicester is looking at a fee of £550 and Bristol is considering charging £400 a year.

Other councils reportedly considering the levies are Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Camden, Colchester, Luton, Norwich, Oxford and Warrington.

The AA’s Luke Bosdet slammed the idea and said councils should focus on more “viable and proven” park-and-ride schemes to encourage drivers to ditch their cars.

He said: “The levy is really just a poll tax on wheels that not only raids workers’ pay packets, while trying to place the blame on employers, but hits the lower-paid hardest.

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“Councils try to justify this tax as a way of raising money for their pet transport projects.”

The RAC’s head of road policy Nicholas Lyes also condemned the levy scheme. He said: “The cost will almost certainly be passed down to workers, so in effect it becomes a tax on a person going to work.

“This especially affects lower-paid workers who may not have any other way of getting to work.”

From next month, councils in Scotland are set to get powers to impose workplace parking levies, with Edinburgh and Glasgow councils among those said to be considering applying the charge.