Exempting teachers from car parking charge ‘the least Government can do’

The Scottish Government has been urged to exempt teachers from having to pay to park their cars at work.

An 11th-hour budget deal was reached on Thursday between Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and the Scottish Greens.

It included granting power to councils to set a levy on workplace car parking spaces.

Health service staff will not be required to pay the tax and there are calls for teachers to also be exempt.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the charges could damage talks over a 10% pay rise for teachers.

Mr Fraser said: “If the SNP wants to crash ahead with this unpopular and ridiculous car park tax plan, the least it could do is exempt teachers.

“The Nationalists find themselves in an absurd position of negotiating a pay rise for teachers while threatening to charge them hundreds of pounds a year for the sake of driving to work.

“That will jeopardise current negotiations with unions and could lead to them coming good on the industrial action they’ve recently threatened.

“If Derek Mackay thinks NHS workers are worthy of exemptions, then so too are teachers.”

The Scottish Government and the Greens have both suggested the tax-raising powers handed to councils, which also allows them to set a tourist tax, would help to raise revenue for public services.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the tax would negate any rise that teachers receive following pay negotiations.

Mr Rennie said: “This is a proposal that has been rushed out without proper thought.

“Workers may be concerned that they have to stump up cash with no guarantee it’s going to be used to improve the public transport that they might use.

“In other places where this has been piloted at least you get new buses and tram routes to fill the gap left by cars.

“Teachers in particular will be affected by this new charge from the Greens and SNP as it will wipe out their long-awaited pay rise.

“It will make recruiting specialist teachers even more difficult.”

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The Scottish Government’s budget not only continues to underfund our public services by an estimated £100 million but also introduces a number of measures which, if enacted, could result in more attacks on public-sector pay.

“The ability for councils to set a workplace levy through car parking spaces is a desperate attempt to absolve the government from the funding crisis they have presided over.”