This is how much Sheffield Council expects to earn from parking this year, as national surplus is forecast to top £1 billion

Parking charges and fines are set to earn English councils more than £1 billion this year, it is claimed, with Sheffield among those expecting them to be a big earner.

By Robert Cumber
Saturday, 29 June, 2019, 07:55

The projected figure comes from a new study commissioned by the RAC Foundation, which says it would represent a record surplus for local authorities. 

Between them, local authorities expect to make £913 million from parking operations in 2019/20, once running costs are taken into account.

Sheffield Council expects to make a 3.6m surplus from parking charges and fines this year, according to the RAC Foundation

But research shows they have collectively underestimated how much they will generate over the past three financial years by between nine and 10 per cent, suggesting the final figure for this current 12-month period could top £1bn.

In Sheffield, parking operations are budgeted to generate a £3.6m surplus this year, according to the report, which is the 65th highest of 343 councils which provided figures.

That is significantly down on the £4.9m net income budgeted last year, but history suggests the final figure could be higher as the council raked in £3.5m in 2017/18, having forecast a £3.3m surplus that year.

Any income from parking activities is ring-fenced, meaning it must be spent on local transport projects and cannot be used for other services.

London councils account for eight of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 largest budgeted surpluses from parking operations for 2019, according to the RAC Foundation, with Westminster’s anticipated £72.1m profit topping the list.

Out of the 343 councils reporting, 278 expect to make a surplus from parking, with the remaining 65 preparing to break even or lose money.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “It would be no surprise at all if English councils soon breached the one billion-pound mark for the amount they make annually from parking, which is quite a windfall from a service that is intended to be all about managing traffic.

“Not every authority makes big money - some even run at loss - but where authorities are making money drivers might reasonably hope that some finds its way specifically into tackling road repairs not just on transport more generally.”

The study was carried out by transport consultant David Leibling, who analysed budget figures provided by English councils to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: "Councils are on the side of motorists and shoppers. They have to strike a balance when setting parking policy, both on-street and off-street, to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving.

"Councils don't make profit on parking charges. Any income raised through on-street parking charges is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling our national £9 billion roads repair backlog and other transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies."

These are the 20 councils in England with the largest budgeted surpluses from parking operations in 2019/20, according to the RAC Foundation:

1. Westminster (£72.1 million)

2. Kensington and Chelsea (£36.0 million)

Sign up to our daily newsletter

3. Camden (£28.3 million)

4. Islington (£25.9 million)

5. Wandsworth (£25.9 million)

6. Hammersmith and Fulham (£25.6 million)

7. Brighton and Hove (£24.0 million)

8. Newham (£16.0 million)

9. Lambeth (£16.0 million)

10. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (£13.7 million)

11. Haringey (£13.1 million)

12. Bristol (£12.5 million)

13. Birmingham (£12.4 million)

14. Merton (£12.3 million)

15. Ealing (£12.1 million)

16. Milton Keynes (£11.5 million)

17. Croydon (£11.5 million)

18. City of London (£11.4 million)

19. Waltham Forest (£10.5 million)

20. Hackney (£10.5 million)