Council parking 'profits' up again in England 07 Dec 2015

Parking profits for English councils up 4%

Council parking ‘profits’ leap to a new record

English councils have made another record surplus from their parking activities, hitting almost £700 million.

In 2014/15 councils in England generated a combined ‘profit’ of £693 million from their day to day, on and off street parking operations.  

This is a 4% increase on the 2013/14 amount of £667 million. £308 million (44%) of the overall surplus total was generated by councils in London.

Although not all councils made a large surplus, few lost money on their parking activities. Just 57 (16%) of the 353 local authorities in England reported negative numbers.

The figures are calculated by taking income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.

The rise in profits is accounted for by an increase in parking income rather than a reduction in running costs (which were in line with the previous financial year).

The data, analysed for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling, comes from the statutory annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The authority with the largest surplus (£46.4 million) remained Westminster though this was down 9% on the previous year. The five biggest earners were all London authorities with only Brighton & Hove, and Nottingham breaking into a top ten still dominated by councils in the capital. The top twenty table is as follows:

Local authority

Class

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Rank by 2014/15 surplus

 

 

£ millions 

 

Westminster

L

38.2

41.6

39.7

51.0

46.4

1

Kensington & Chelsea

L

21.1

28.1

30.4

33.5

33.0

2

Camden

L

21.1

25.0

23.5

24.9

24.5

3

Hammersmith & Fulham

L

16.6

19.5

19.4

23.0

23.8

4

Wandsworth

L

14.4

16.1

15.9

19.7

20.4

5

Brighton & Hove UA

UA

12.7

14.4

16.3

18.1

18.6

6

Haringey*

L

3.3

5.3

5.2

5.7

16.1

7

Islington

L

5.6

10.9

8.2

10.4

13.7

8

Nottingham City UA*

UA

3.7

3.3

11.8

12.1

13.3

9

Hackney

L

4.7

5.9

7.8

8.2

10.8

10

Brent

L

3.9

2.7

2.7

8.3

10.5

11

Tower Hamlets

L

6.0

5.8

7.0

8.3

10.0

12

Birmingham

MD

5.1

5.5

6.9

7.8

9.7

13

Lambeth

L

7.0

5.8

12.0

7.2

9.7

14

Milton Keynes UA

UA

6.0

6.6

6.7

8.2

9.0

15

Cornwall UA

UA

8.2

7.9

8.1

8.0

8.7

16

Manchester

MD

1.9

6.3

8.8

8.0

7.9

17

Hounslow

L

6.0

7.3

6.4

7.8

7.7

18

Newham

L

3.9

7.3

8.2

7.2

7.3

19

Merton

L

4.4

5.7

6.9

7.0

7.2

20

Key: L = London boroughs; MD = Metropolitan districts; SD = Shire districts; UA = Unitary authorities

*Notes to table: The figure for Haringey seems anomalous: its budgeted figure for 2014/15 was only £8.9 million compared with £16.1 million actual but the budget figure for 2015/16 is closer to the historic trend. Nottingham ranks 2nd outside London because it collects several million pounds per year from the Workplace Parking Levy which is now in its third year. This is dedicated to transport improvements in the Nottingham area, mainly for extension to the tram system.

Local authorities must also provide the government with an estimate of the surplus/deficit they expect to have at the end of the current financial year. This suggests the surplus figure for 2015/16 in England will be £687 million. 

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The financial sums involved in local authority parking are huge and the overall profits eye-watering. And once again the year-on-year direction of travel is upwards.

“It is unsurprising that London leads the way in making money. Its roads are most congested and the pressure on road space immense.

“The legal position is that parking charges are to be used as a tool for managing traffic. But with local government budgets under ever-greater pressure the temptation to see them as a fund-raiser must be intense.

“When a parking profit is made the law states that, essentially, the money can only be spent on transport and environment projects. We are simply asking that all councils publish annual reports to tell drivers exactly where this huge excess ends up.

“The precarious financial state of many councils is a genuine concern, not least when it comes to the risk of a cut in road maintenance spending which will hit every one of us. A funding solution requires national and local government to look beyond the High Street parking meter.”

ENDS

Contacts:

RAC Foundation:

Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications

Philip.gomm@racfoundation.org | 020 7747 3445 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN) | 07711 776448

David Leibling – report author

07720 052539

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705.

David Leibling’s report is available to read here. It includes the full list of local authorities both alphabetically and ranked by amount of surplus:

http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/Local_authority_parking_finances_England_2014-15_report_David_Leibling_December_2015.pdf

The tables showing individual councils and their amount of surplus are also available separately:

http://www.racfoundation.org/assets/rac_foundation/content/downloadables/Local_Authority_Parking_Operations_Revenue_Outturn_for_England_2014-15_listed_by_size_of_surplus_and_alphabetic.pdf

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