But surplus still hits £891 million
Councils in England made a combined surplus (profit) of £891 million from parking in 2019-20.
This was 4.6% lower than the £934 million profit made in the previous year.
The analysis by the RAC Foundation is based on the standardised financial returns made by 338 English councils to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
(The data for five more councils is missing as they had not made their returns by the time MHCLG published their summary.)
Between them these 338 local authorities in England had a total income of £1.746 billion from their on- and off-street parking operations in 2019-20, the same amount as in 2018-19.
The amount they spent on running their parking was £854 million, up on the £812 million in the previous year. This expenditure does not include interest payments or depreciation on their capital assets such as car parks as these figures are not accounted for in the official data.
The difference between the income and expenditure figures is the surplus (profit) from day to day operations.
The analysis includes the £10 million net income generated by the Nottingham workplace parking levy, as detailed in the council’s draft statement of accounts. It excludes the six national parks.
Not all councils made large profits, but only 35 of the 338 reported a loss.
Summary table of English council parking accounts for 2019-20 (£ millions):
|2015-16||2016-17||2017-18||2018-19||2019-20||% change 2019-20 on
(Please note that some of these figures have been rounded and might not sum exactly.)
As seen in previous years those councils with the largest surplus (profit) tended to be in London, with Westminster council topping the list with a surplus of £69.6 million.
Top 30 English councils by level of parking surplus in 2019-20 (£ millions):
|Kensington & Chelsea||34.2||32.2||34.5||37.3||38.8||4.0|
|Hammersmith & Fulham||22.7||23.1||23.8||26.1||25.5||-2.0|
|Brighton & Hove||20.1||21.2||23.4||26.0||24.8||-4.8|
|Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||13.9||N/A|
|City of London||5.3||6.5||14.4||13.9||10.7||-23.1|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||7.3||7.5||8.5||8.8||8.6||-1.9|
|Richmond upon Thames||7.5||8.3||9.8||8.6||8.5||-1.0|
|Bath & North East Somerset||6.3||6.3||7.8||7.3||7.6||4.3|
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“Parking management is quite a money-spinner for some local authorities, and nationally it is a big business with total income of more than £1.7bn. The surplus for 2019-20 is down a little on the year before which may in part reflect the impact of the first Covid lockdown which saw traffic levels plummet at the end of last March.
“The dip is likely to be much deeper for the current financial year given the range of restrictions over the past 12 months and the government’s current plea that we should all stay at home if we can.
“Going forward there are likely to be many councils who are actually looking to cut parking charges as a way of encouraging more people to visit their High Streets which are fighting for survival.”
Full details for all councils can be found in this RAC Foundation analysis paper:
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | [email protected]
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.
All the RAC Foundation’s work is available on its website: www.racfoundation.org
It should be noted that councils can be abolished or amalgamated into new authorities. Details of recent changes to local government structures can be found here: