A small business support group has reacted to reports that a controversial tax on private parking spaces is set to be extended.
It is thought that councils across the UK plan to introduce a workplace parking levy (WPL) scheme, which will see businesses being taxed on parking provisions they provide for staff.
The Forum of Private Business is deeply opposed to the scheme and believes it will provoke fury among business owners, who could be forced to pay tens of thousands of pounds each year simply for providing their employees with somewhere to park their cars.
Forum spokesman Chris Gorman said: "When the Nottingham WPL scheme was given the go-ahead last year, we said at the time that it would only be a matter of time before it spread to other towns and cities. Sadly, it appears those fears will soon be realised.
"In our view, and in the view of our members, it’s simply a stealth tax which will have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. It’s the equivalent of charging homeowners to park on their own driveways and will increase parking problems in town centres and cities.
"Businesses already contribute enormous amounts to public services through existing taxes such as business rates. Whatever its supposed justifications, the danger is that the WPL could open the floodgates to a raft of new taxes and charges being levied onto companies to pay for things which were previously paid for through general taxation.
"And while councils’ finances are under pressure, this is a very short-sighted idea as companies are likely to avoid areas with a WPL scheme in operation, meaning jobs, investment and therefore tax revenue will end up elsewhere."
Mr Gorman added: "This proposal comes as small businesses are battling with economic uncertainty, public spending cuts and worrying levels of inflation.