The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 ("the Act") makes provision for local authorities to enact schemes for parking charges to be levied in respect of employees for providing workplace parking spaces. These are known as Workplace Parking License Schemes ("Schemes"). The Act also provides for the creation of regulations and guidance to underpin such Schemes. Last week the Scottish Government launched a consultation open to both stakeholders and the public regarding the regulations and guidance.

The provisions in the Act have been introduced following the success of a similar proposal in Nottingham introduced by its City Council in 2012. The levy in Nottingham has been set at £428 per space to be paid annually. Thus far the revenue from its Scheme is estimated at £53 million.

The Scottish Government's basis for introducing discretionary powers for Councils to implement a Scheme lies in its aim for Scotland to be net-zero country by 2045. The justification being that the introduction of Schemes will lead to more people leaving their cars at home, opting for cleaner more sustainable modes of transport. Net proceeds raised from a Scheme can only be used to facilitate the achievement of policies in the Council's local transport strategy (or in the case of a joint Scheme, the policies of the local transport strategy of a Council with whom the local authority is acting jointly). So, it follows that Schemes should not be regarded as a means of raising revenue for other purposes or simply to balance budgets.

The charges to be introduced via the Schemes has attracted criticism from workplace unions, describing them as "taxing workers for turning up to work". Local authorities will no doubt be aware of the issues surrounding the Schemes and the extent to which they have discretion in terms of their implementation and operation.

What is a Workplace Parking License Scheme?

If implemented, a Scheme will require the provider of the workplace parking place to obtain a licence from the local authority for premises to which the Scheme relates used by both employees and certain categories of visitors. There are a number of exemptions for (among others) qualifying NHS premises, hospice car parks and Blue Badge holders.

A local authority will be able to charge for a Scheme licence. The occupier of premises subject to the Scheme will pay those charges. This will usually be the employer. Thereafter, the employer can choose whether to absorb the cost of the licence fee itself, partly subsidise those costs or recover the entire costs from employees using the workplace parking spaces.

Role of local authorities

Local authorities have discretion as to whether to implement such a Scheme and if they choose to do so, how that Scheme might be designed. This might include (for example) bespoke exemptions, timings, and boundaries to be applied in each Scheme. There also exists the option for two local authorities to implement a Scheme jointly.

In the event a local authority chooses to bring a Scheme into force, there are a number of requirements to be met including:

  • a consultation and impact assessment and
  • a report summarising the results of consultation.

On publication of this report, an 8-week standstill period will come into force during which the local authority must not implement the Scheme. Over the course of these eight weeks, the local authority and the Scottish Ministers will have the opportunity to consider the decision to implement the Scheme. As part of this process the local authority or Scottish Ministers can decide that an examination and report on the proposal is necessary.

Following the standstill period (or, where applicable, completion of the examination), the local authority may proceed to make, amend or revoke the Scheme.

SG consultation

The consultation seeks views on local authority discretion in relation to certain aspects of the Scheme such as penalty charges. It also seeks views on the impact the implementation of a Scheme might have on certain groups including (amongst others) children and young people and those facing socio-economic disadvantages, as well as the environment.

Looking forward

The closing date for the consultation is 6 September 2021. Once the regulations have been made and the guidance published, local authorities can consider (1) whether they will implement a Scheme and (2) the form it will take. Employers will also have to give due consideration as to how best to tackle the financial implications of Schemes and this may have further implications for work-at-home initiatives.

If you have any questions concerning the above, please do not hesitate to contact Jackie McGuire, Johanna Boyd or your usual Brodies contact.


Martha Speed

Trainee Solicitor