Councils across England are estimated to lose millions in parking fees as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with some set to face shortfalls well into the millions.
Figures released by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government today show that local authorities were expecting to bank more than £885 million in parking fees, but this has been destroyed by lockdown and the suspension of parking charges throughout the crisis period.
The councils whose incomes from parking fees have been hit hardest include Westminster (expecting to lose £143,274,000 across its 2019-20 and 2020-21 budgets), Kensington and Chelsea (£72,615,000 across the same period), Camden (£57,280,000) and Brighton and Hove (£51,939,000), with most others also set to endure loses in the millions.
The losses will put councils in a difficult position, because while reintroducing charges would increase revenues, it could deter customers from returning to local high streets, which have also been hit hard by Covid-19 and need to recover quickly.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “If councils weren’t already under significant pressure, they’ll be bracing themselves even more as they see a huge chunk of their income for the year lost.
“For being so dependent on this income stream, councils are now stuck at a crossroad. Waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit or reapply them and risk hurting or, worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns.
“This loss of revenue should also act as a wake-up call to towns and cities intent on banning drivers from their centres. If they ban cars completely, they need to be prepared to lose a huge chunk of a major income source.”