Councils in England are facing a huge loss of income from parking revenue due to COVID-19, with the fall in revenue set to run into millions.
Figures released to by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government show local authorities were anticipating to bank more than £885m in 2020-2021 in parking fees alone, the AA has reported.
Lockdown and the suspension of parking charges throughout the COVID crisis period means councils will not receive the income they budgeted for when they drew up their plans for the year in February.
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 wakeup 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.'
Cllr David Renard, Local Government Association (LGA) transport spokesman, said councils faced 'extra cost pressures and significant income losses as a result, as this survey highlights'.
'The Government’s commitment to fund a portion of councils’ lost income from fees and charges is a step in the right direction. We reiterate our call to the Government to meet all extra cost pressures and income losses from fees and charges and other sources, including commercial activity, if councils are to avoid having to make tough decisions on in-year cuts to services to meet their legal duty to set a balanced budget this year.
'With high streets and town centres reopening, demand for parking spaces will be returning back to normal levels in many places. As before the pandemic, councils will set charges to reflect local circumstances, including supporting high streets and town centre businesses.'