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Birmingham investigates case for introducing workplace levy

15 October 2019

Businesses in Birmingham city centre could be charged £500 a year for each private parking space under a city council plan to reduce congestion and air pollution.

Birmingham City Council is looking at the potential for a workplace parking levy (WPL) to fund public transport and cycle routes. Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport, said: “We’ve got to look at other ways we can reduce air pollution in our city, which is ultimately killing people.”

A report presented to Birmingham City Council’s cabinet on 15 October estimates that a WPL can generate about £7m every year by charging £500 for each of the 14,500 city centre workplace spaces.

“Based on an initial assessment of the predicted net revenue, it is estimated that the levy will generate approximately £7.1m annual net revenue,” said the report.

If the proposal is approved, the authority will seek to implement it by 2024.

The Transport Act (2000) provides the enabling legislation for WPL and states that WPL may be used to fund any specified travel scheme, including improvements to active travel modes, including walking and cycling, sustainable modes of transport such as public transport, and schemes that contribute towards reducing car dominance and improving air quality and congestion.

The estimated cost of implementing the scheme is £915,000.

The workplace parking levy would be paid on top of clean air zone (CAZ) fees, which are set to be introduced in January. Under the CAZ scheme, some motorists will be charged between £6 and £10 per day to drive into the city centre.

Currently, Nottingham is the only city in the UK to have WPL, which was introduced in 2012. The report to Birmingham’s cabinet says there is little evidence that Nottingham’s WPL has constrained economic growth there.

However, concerns have been raised by the RAC warned that people who relied on their cars to get to work risked being penalised twice as they would also have to pay to enter Birmingham’s CAZ. An RAC spokesperson said: “WPL’s a tax on people actually going to work. Almost certainly businesses will pass that cost on to employees.”

Birmingham Chambers of Commerce says that the council to “tread very carefully” on this initiative.

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