Councils treating drivers like ‘cash cows’ with almost £1billion profit from car parking charges

Parking meter

Councils across England made a total profit of £962.3million

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 12/10/2023

- 14:21

Almost £300million of the profit came from off-street parking alone

Councils are taking advantage of drivers with expensive parking charges, as new data shows they made almost £1billion from car parks.

During the last financial year, between April 2022 and April 2023, revenue from parking bounced back to pre-pandemic levels and even exceeded it.

New research from the AA shows that councils in England alone made a staggering profit of £962.3million.

This comes from £673.1million in surplus revenue from on-street parking and £289.2million from off-street parking.

WATCH NOW: How to challenge unfair parking tickets

During 2021 and 2022, when numerous lockdowns were in place and restricted the amount that people could travel, profits fell to £317.6million.

Prior to the disruption caused by the pandemic in 2018 and 2019, English councils saw a surplus of £936.1million.

The proportion of money generated from parking differed quite significantly compared to the past year.

More than £570million was made from on-street parking, while almost £365million came from council-run car parks.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, commented on the shocking data, saying that motorists were being hammered by expensive and unfair charges.

He said: “Once again official statistics show that councils have turned parking into a huge cash cow, not just a service to stimulate local trade and support workers and visitors.

“However, the nearly £75million or 20 per cent crash in the surplus from car parks must be particularly worrying for cash-strapped councils.”

The latest statistics from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, found that London borough councils also made huge profits.

Over the last financial year, councils in the capital profited to the tune of £551.3million purely from drivers parking on the street.

Jack Cousens added: “While the Covid fallout, such as people working from home, and the economic downturn are factors in the decline, hikes in parking charges by councils have contributed and helped to drive more shoppers online.

“In effect, many local authorities are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”

The Government recently unveiled proposals to make parking easier for motorists as part of its “Plan for Drivers” report.

This includes delivering the new National Parking Platform by autumn 2024, which aims to end the use of multiple parking apps.

It is expected that the Government will also launch a public consultation on revising guidance about the public’s right to challenge local authority parking policies.


Parking sign

London borough councils also made hundreds of millions of pounds in profit


Motorists may also be able to find parking spaces more easily thanks to the “Digitised Traffic Regulation Orders” which will point out any legal and open parking spaces to the driver.

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