Businesses across England could face an eye-watering £3.4 billion bill for simply using their own car parking spaces. 

This monumental cost could become a reality if councils decide to apply for the controversial Workplace Parking Levy (WPL). Nottingham City Council has already applied to slap businesses with the stealth tax and a final decision from the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon, is imminent. 

More worryingly, a Department for Transport consultation into the WPL heightens the risk of the scheme’s national roll out as it helps councils across England to apply for take up of the scheme. 

The WPL will require all businesses to register workplace parking spaces, which will prove burdensome enough. However, businesses with ten spaces or more, will also suffer a financial strain because each parking space will have to be paid for. The levy will start at £185 in 2010, but will rise to £350 by 2014 (using the blueprint from Nottingham).

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has calculated that if every eligible council covered by the consultation adopted the WPL, then businesses will be left with huge costs amounting to £3.4 billion. 

The BCC is calling for the Secretary of State to reject Nottingham City Council’s application and to abolish the blueprint for this stealth tax nationally. 

With the economy now in recession and firms struggling with cash-flow, the tax will be detrimental for companies, towns and local economies. 

Commenting on the WPL, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, said: 

“If councils go ahead with this oppressive tax, companies and employees will be hit hard at a time when they least need it. 

“There is a real risk that towns and cities will see firms refusing to invest and in a worst case scenario relocating elsewhere. This isn’t a risk worth taking for a scheme which will not help reduce congestion.” 

The BCC has launched a petition against the WPL which it is encouraging people to sign up at: http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/nostealthtaxonparking 

Herts Chamber Chief Executive, Tim Hutchings,  “This is an attempt to lumber businesses with yet another stealth tax. At anytime a tax of this nature would be abhorrent but to consider it in the current climate is quite simply barmy”