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EMPLOYERS: Workplace Parking Levy FAQs

These FAQs provide summary answers to common questions about workplace parking levy (WPL) and signpost to relevant consultation documents. However, they cannot deal with every situation.

Employers should contact consultations@leicester.gov.uk if they have a specific question that is not answered here. 

The answers shown in this FAQ reflect the current proposed WPL approach, which may change once the responses are analysed. The consultation exercise closed on 13 March 2022, all responses will now be carefully considered before the next steps are determined.

Sections

  1. General information on WPL
  2. Requirements to pay the proposed WPL
  3. Applying for a WPL licence for parking places
  4. Specific WPL charging examples
  5. Advice and support for employers
  6. Managing the levy
  7. Penalties for non-compliance

1. General information on WPL

Why is Leicester City Council proposing a WPL?

WPL is an important element of the proposed strategy in the Leicester Transport Plan (PDF) which is intended to help fund ambitious public transport, cycling and walking proposals and reduce car use. This will help tackle key city challenges that include:

  • Supporting the transport needs of 60,000 new homes required in and around the city to 2036
  • Meeting climate emergency ambitions to achieve net zero carbon by 2030
  • Addressing new air quality and walking / cycling targets to improve people’s health.

Details on the WPL scheme can be found in the workplace parking levy business case (PDF). 

What would the money be spent on?

We have calculated that WPL could bring in £95m over ten years, which could be increased to £450m by making maximum use of Government grants and private sector contributions. All WPL receipts must be used for sustainable transport projects that contribute to the aims and objectives of the Leicester Transport Plan.

The workplace parking levy summary business case (PDF) provides a summary of the first ten year WPL investment programme which is focussed on a transformational investment in public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure and services.

How much would it cost?

It is proposed that employers would be charged £550 annually for each liable parking place. In the first instance the employer, not the employee, is liable for paying the levy. However, it is up to the employer whether (and how) they make a charge to employees using a liable parking place. The employer could, for example, decide to pass on a charge to staff according to salary levels, workplace location, or decide not to charge certain employees.

Would the charge be indexed to reflect inflation?

Yes.

What is the area that would be charged?

WPL would operate within the city council administrative boundary. 

Why can’t the council get money for transport from somewhere else (central Government, for example?)

The city council has a good record of securing Government and other transport funding. However, Government transport funding to local authorities is not always available and is usually secured on a competitive basis with matching council funding required. A consistent local source of funding through WPL would help the city take advantage of additional grants and allow robust future transport investment planning to achieve health, climate emergency and congestion objectives.

Many employers are located in local neighbourhoods outside the city centre – how would they benefit from the transport plans?

Short and long-distance commuters would have a better choice of good quality transport. The receipts from WPL would be spent on a programme of transport improvements across the whole city, including fast and frequent bus services on key commuter corridors and serving neighbourhoods, demand-responsive local buses, a city-wide cycle network, and more and better connected Park & Ride sites.

Linking local areas with these improved services will be a priority. Details are available in the Leicester Transport Plan (PDF). By not building an expensive fixed tram network the council will be able to provide a more extensive city-wide transport network with benefits seen much earlier.

Why is there currently only one example of WPL in operation (in Nottingham)?

Nottingham’s WPL scheme was the first of its type and construction of the tram wasn’t complete until three years after the WPL commenced. Independent evaluation of the scheme and its wider impacts was then undertaken and the benefits of the WPL scheme in tackling congestion and delivering a high-quality sustainable transport system are now better understood. 

A growing recognition and understanding of challenges (for example, relating to growth and associated congestion, climate emergency and air pollution) together with limited Government funding has prompted other local authorities to consider WPL as an option.

A number of other authorities have recently been investigating WPL, including Oxfordshire County, Bristol City and London Borough of Hounslow. 

Why has a WPL scheme been favoured over the introduction of other measures such as a congestion charge?

The workplace parking levy business case (PDF) and the supporting DMU study, Workplace parking levy: an evidence-based review of policy and prospects for Leicester (PDF), consider transport demand management options, including a congestion charge.

A WPL is specifically focussed on peak period commuting which creates the most impact on congestion, carbon and air quality emissions. It is also simpler, quicker and less expensive to introduce than a congestion charge.

A WPL is generally considered to be more publicly acceptable than a road user charging scheme as it is more targeted in nature. A WPL has successfully been introduced in Nottingham, a city of similar size and nature.

2. Requirements to pay the proposed WPL

Who would need to apply for a WPL licence for liable parking places?

All employers who provide Workplace Parking Place(s) (as defined by the Leicester WPL Scheme Order PDF) within the Leicester City Council administrative boundary would be legally obliged to obtain a WPL licence for the liable parking places they provide.

Workplace Parking Places include those used by the employer, employees, regular business visitors such as contractors and agency workers, students and pupils. A summary of parking places which are proposed as being exempt from classification as Workplace Parking Places is listed below. 

Who would pay the WPL?

Employers who provide 11 or more occupied Workplace Parking Places. Employers with ten or fewer occupied Workplace Parking Places would receive a 100% discount. Additional discounts proposed are summarised below.

Would employers have to pay for parking places occupied by customers, Blue Badge holders and visitors?

No, parking places occupied by vehicles used by customers, private visitors and occasional business visitors would not need to be licensed and would not be charged. Parking places used by Blue Badge holders would need to be licensed but will not be charged. 

Would employers have to pay for parking places occupied by zero emission vehicles used by commuters?

Yes, there is no discount or exemption proposed for zero emission vehicles as an EV car has the same impact on congestion as a conventional powered car, albeit without many related environmental impacts.

What are the proposed exemptions (no need to obtain a WPL licence)?

  • Vehicles used by ordinary customers (e.g. of shops, cultural and leisure facilities)
  • Vehicles used by people who live/work/study at the same premises
  • Vehicles displayed for sale (unless also used for commuting)
  • Delivery vehicles (unless also used for commuting)
  • Vehicles used by occasional business visitors (proposed to be defined as visiting less frequently than once a fortnight)
  • Fleet vehicles (unless also used for commuting)
  • Vehicles used by business customers
  • Motorbikes, e-bikes and other forms of micro-mobility
  • Unpaid volunteers working for a registered charity
  • Emergency services vehicles

What are the proposed 100% discounts (a WPL licence must still be obtained)?

Workplaces with ten or fewer Workplace Parking Places (as defined in the Leicester WPL Scheme Order PDF).

  • Emergency services premises (fire and rescue service, police or National Crime Agency)
  • Blue Badge holders

3. Applying for a WPL licence for parking places

How would employers apply for a WPL Licence?

Employers would be able to apply for licences and manage their WPL accounts online. Although they would apply for an annual licence, they would also be able to make any required changes throughout the year, subject to certain conditions. The city council would provide help and advice to employers.

What information would employers need to apply for a WPL licence?

Employers would need to collect information on the maximum vehicle occupancy (see below for explanation) of parking places at the workplace as well as who uses them before they apply for a WPL licence. The city council will provide help and advice on obtaining this information.

If the employer has more than one workplace, would they need a licence for each workplace?

Yes, a separate licence will be required for each workplace within the Leicester City Council administrative boundary.   

How would an employer calculate the number of parking places to be licensed?

The employer is responsible for calculating the maximum number of chargeable Workplace Parking Places. This is called maximum vehicle occupancy. 

For example, if you have a total of 50 employee vehicles parked on your premises at different times of the day, but only 30 ever parked at any one time, your maximum vehicle occupancy is 30. For these premises you will only need to get a licence for 30 workplace parking places.

What checks will be made?

To ensure that employers are complying with the WPL scheme, a WPL enforcement team would visit premises where workplace parking is being provided. The WPL team would use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment which would enable officers to gather vehicle registration marks of all vehicles on the premises at the time of the visit.

4. Specific WPL charging examples 

If an employer has, for example, 12 Workplace Parking Places, are they only liable to pay for two?

No, the employer must pay the levy for all 12 places. Where an employer can reduce the number of Workplace Parking Places to ten or below, they would receive a 100% discount.

If an employer rents the building and land used for parking from someone else, who pays – the employer renting or the company or person the places are rented from?

The employer occupying any premises is responsible for paying the WPL charge, whether they own the building and land or not.

Are parking places at individual branch offices or similar (same employer, separate premises) counted separately for WPL purposes?

No, separate premises used by the same employer would be counted together as one entity for the purposes of assessing WPL parking places, rather than assessed separately. This would also apply if employers are ‘associated’ with other employers (e.g. a parent company or subsidiary).

What happens when the number of Workplace Parking Places changes over the year? (for example on construction sites and when additional staff are taken on pre-Christmas)

The employer would discuss these circumstances with the council. The online WPL licensing system would allow employers to make permissible changes throughout the year, subject to certain conditions.

5. Advice and support for employers

Would employers receive any support to help them comply with the WPL?

A support and advice service would be set up by the council for employers to help manage the implementation of the WPL. This could for example include advice on alternative sustainable transport options and discounts for staff, which would help minimise the number of liable spaces, and how to manage car parks effectively.

Will there be any special consideration of transport improvements for employers located in areas where public transport is not currently available?

Yes, the city council would work with employers to investigate how transport options can be improved in the light of the specific travel requirements of staff members. For example, it may be possible to ‘tweak’ bus services to better reflect staff requirements or perhaps to extend an existing cycle route to reach an employment site. The city council has plans to radically improve bus services across the city, including extending times of operation. More details are available in the Leicester Transport Plan (PDF) and the Bus Services Improvement Plan (PDF).

What if employees park their cars on surrounding residential streets?

The council would work closely with employers to identify and address any parking issues resulting from WPL. Survey work has already taken place to identify where potential hot spots may occur based on current knowledge. The city council is working jointly with the county council to identify any cross-boundary issues. Parking controls can be considered where additional unacceptable on-street parking occurs, particularly in residential areas. 

6. Managing the levy

Can employers pass on the WPL to their employees who use the car park?

Employers are responsible for paying the WPL charge, however some employers may choose to pass a charge on to employees who park at work by introducing a parking charge as part of a parking management scheme. The city council will provide advice on how to pass a charge on to employees fairly.

How do employers deal with unmarked or unauthorised parking places (for example on green spaces or along internal roads and driveways)?

WPL applies to any land or buildings at the workplace. It will be up to the employer to ensure that the WPL is paid on all liable Workplace Parking Places (which do not have to be marked out in official car parks).

If employers reduce their Workplace Parking Places to limit WPL liability, what help is there to encourage employees to use other forms of transport?

The city council will set up a grant scheme for facilities such as cycle parking and showers and will facilitate discussions with bus companies on fare discounts and other benefits for staff. Employers will be given advice and support on initiating and managing these schemes.

Are Workplace Parking Places used by shift workers included?

Yes, they must be licensed, and a levy paid if they are liable. It is expected that there will be a grace period for shift changeover times, and employers should discuss this with the city council.

What about places used by part-time workers?

These places must be licensed, and a levy paid if they are liable. It is up to the employer whether to charge employees generally, and if employers do pass the charge on, they should consider pro-rata arrangements for part-time workers.

Will employers receive any support to help them comply with the WPL?

A substantial business support and advice programme will be available, including advice to employers liable for paying the WPL, how to calculate the maximum vehicle occupancy, and how to manage car parks more effectively.

If a parking charge is passed on to employees, they may just park outside the workplace on public roads. How will this be dealt with?

The city council has already identified possible parking hotspots and will consider suitable restrictions or charges on public roads to discourage this practice where it is likely to cause harm or create problems for residents.

7. Penalties for non-compliance

When is enforcement action taken?

The focus will be on supporting employers to comply with WPL requirements. Enforcement action will generally be avoided in the first instance. The city council will always engage with and support employers to comply with their legal obligations.

What are the penalties if the employer fails to comply?

There are three types of civil contraventions:

  • Failure to have a licence at all
  • Failure to have a licence for all workplace parking places being provided
  • Breach of licence conditions

If an employer commits one of the above civil contraventions, they may be given the chance to remedy their contravention. However, continued non-compliance can result in Penalty Charge Notices being issued.

Are there criminal offences associated with WPL?

Yes, for intentionally providing false or misleading information in connection with a licence application or for obstructing a duly authorised WPL officer’s powers of entry.