The Scottish Government has set out proposals to allow councils the powers to introduce a workplace parking levy or WPL in their local area if they want to do so.

The proposals form part of an agreement between the Scottish National Party Government and the Scottish Greens. The powers would enable local authorities to charge an annual tax for every parking space that employers provide for their employees. Employers could then choose whether to pass on the cost to staff who drive to work.

The proposed change will be introduced through an amendment of the Transport (Scotland) Bill that is currently going through the Scottish Parliament. The amendment is likely to be debated and voted on in June.

The Scottish Government has stressed that NHS workers will not have to pay the levy. Disabled parking spaces would also be exempt. In addition, local authorities who wanted to introduce the levy would have to consult before going ahead with such a scheme.

However, the proposals have proved controversial.

Supporters, such as environmental groups, believe that the annual tax would discourage people from driving to work, encouraging them to walk, cycle or take public transport to work. This would help to reduce congestion, reduce pollution and improve air quality.

Opponents of the plans claim that the levy would simply represent a tax on working. They say that in practice few people would decide not to drive and that the levy would merely result in extra financial costs to businesses, public bodies and individual commuters.

Criticism of the plan was also voiced by the Scottish Police Federation who pointed out that the proposals fail to include an exemption for police officers.

In England a similar policy has been adopted in Nottingham and is being considered in other local authorities. Some councils, however, have already rejected the idea.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has launched an online survey to gauge views on the proposed workplace parking levy.

Further information about the legislative amendment can be found on the Scottish Parliament website.

Last reviewed 14 May 2019