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Free parking for government employees-Who's in charge?


Moghrey Mie
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Moorhouse's question and the subsequent discussion are now available on Listen Again:

https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/listen/AgainFiles/O-202201-0543a.mp3

Chris Thomas is basically saying he know nothing about it and it's telling that the initial answer he was given to read out doesn't answer the second part of the question, which was: When parking charges for Government employees were suspended, by whom, and why; when it was decided to continue with no parking charges, and by whom, and why; and whether this decision applies to all Government employees.  Nothing to say who decide to continue this policy, even though the reason for it had gone.

He did explain something that had puzzled me in the initial reply to Watterson's Written Question - why the amounts taken had increased so sharply over the years:

 image.thumb.png.4c333aee18745aca2545440f20f8a095.png

It turns out that the there was a gradually reducing discount given to the favoured - 75% in 2016-17, 50% in 2017-18 and so on.  As the you can see, despite charges not being suspended till April 2020, no figure is given for 2019-20, where Covid will have only had an effect in the last week or two (MHKs just seem to accept this constant failure from civil servants to even answer their own questions properly.).  As there would have been no discount that year, it suggests that the true loss would be in the £145,000 - £150,000 region (charging does seem to have reduced usage a little).

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2 hours ago, Banker said:

Interesting information on Twitter, DOI executive allegedly used budget to pay for free parking!!

This was from Ashford's supplementary where he pointed out that the loss of income to the DoI should have been in someone's budget[1].  Obviously the loss of a mere £150,000 pa is a gnat's breath in the financial clusterfuck that is the DoI, but I think he's also technically wrong.  If this free parking is at Chester Street, pre-Covid that was run by DBC and presumably actual money had to be handed over to them for the spaces or at least knocked-off fees paid by DBC. 

The DoI took back the running of the car park when economic activity started up again, so effectively this is now all in-house.  So they can claim there's no extra cost - providing you ignore that they could let those spaces out to non-civil servants for money.

 

[1]  Yes of course he used the word 'vires', I suspect incorrectly as budget setting doesn't require legal authority.  He's also blissfully oblivious that the decision (at least for this financial year) must have taken place when he was Treasury Minister.

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1 hour ago, WTF said:

the public aren't being taxed to pay for private sector parking.

A private sector worker who has free parking has this paid for from business income, which comes from those who make the money for said business, likely to be their customers. Is it not similar? Why should public sector not decide that certain people can have free parking, just like a private sector company can? I don't work in the public sector and don't get free parking, I just don't really see an issue. 

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12 minutes ago, Capt_Mainwaring said:

A private sector worker who has free parking has this paid for from business income, which comes from those who make the money for said business, likely to be their customers. Is it not similar? Why should public sector not decide that certain people can have free parking, just like a private sector company can? I don't work in the public sector and don't get free parking, I just don't really see an issue. 

maybe they should all get free lunches too then .........

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22 minutes ago, WTF said:

maybe they should all get free lunches too then .........

Some companies who care about their employees do provide free or subsidised lunches. Still don't see the issue. It's just pointless government bashing. Bash them for other stuff, yes. Just not something so insignificant that happens in many other workplaces. 

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16 minutes ago, Capt_Mainwaring said:

Some companies who care about their employees do provide free or subsidised lunches. Still don't see the issue. It's just pointless government bashing. Bash them for other stuff, yes. Just not something so insignificant that happens in many other workplaces. 

At £6 a day that’s about £1200 a year benefit is it isn’t insignificant. I know a few in the private sector who do have feee spaces but they’re taxed as a benefit in kind so not ‘free’.

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23 minutes ago, Steady Eddie said:

At £6 a day that’s about £1200 a year benefit is it isn’t insignificant. I know a few in the private sector who do have feee spaces but they’re taxed as a benefit in kind so not ‘free’.

It's not BiK where I work, just part of the employment package at certain levels or for the role.

1,200 to me is not significant in the scheme of things. Potentially 1% or less than the person's overall remuneration. 

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20 hours ago, forestboy said:

Hospital staff should have free parking. 

I don't disagree. But it would be much better if DHSC/Nobles created a separate parking area away from the main car park so that patients and bone fide visitors are able to park without having to drive around endlessly looking for a space (any space). It might also help with the on-road parking around the hospital buildings.

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35 minutes ago, piebaps said:

Free car parking spaces are not normally a taxable benefit 

It depends if it’s contractual and you have an allocated space. If it’s available, non allocated, first come first served, it’s not taxable BiK.

@Capt_Mainwaring Yes, it’s reasonable for a good employer to provide a decent remuneration and benefits package. BUT you’re missing the point. For government employees the parking was free and not a taxable BiK. That raised hackles because most private sector workers had to pay. So as part of a pay deal the CS started to have to pay if they had a space.

Then, in covid,  Chief Officers group suspended payment. Covid is, effectively, over. Chief Officers haven’t reinstated. There’s not been a debate in public about this. It’s a policy matter. As you say it’s a £1,200 a year benefit. A hidden pay increase to some CS and not others.

On top of that, in private sector it comes out of employers pockets as part of overhead of running the business. Eventually it’s paid for by the customers. For CS it’s paid for by taxpayers. That means there need to be openness, transparency, and accountability.

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15 minutes ago, John Wright said:

BUT you’re missing the point.

I don't disagree with anything you say. I just don't think it's a big issue. Where I work, free parking spaces is the never ending bone of contention: why does X have one and not me etc. The criteria for who has one is set by, more than likely, someone who has one themselves.

Some employers are lucky and have a full car park with free spaces for everyone. Some are based in town and only certain people get a space.

As someone said elsewhere, life isn't always fair.

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36 minutes ago, Capt_Mainwaring said:

I don't disagree with anything you say. I just don't think it's a big issue. Where I work, free parking spaces is the never ending bone of contention: why does X have one and not me etc. The criteria for who has one is set by, more than likely, someone who has one themselves.

Some employers are lucky and have a full car park with free spaces for everyone. Some are based in town and only certain people get a space.

As someone said elsewhere, life isn't always fair.

That’s fine, if as you imply you’re on £120,000+ a year (£1,200 is less than 1% of your remuneration ).

Its not insignificant, and unfair, and is a big issue, when free spaces are given, at public expense to, say 400 CS. It’s £500,000 approx. That’s illustrative. I think it’s about 120 and annual cost was around £140,000.

It’s also unfair, and an issue, if you’re a CS earning  £25-30,000. You’ve just got 6% but your colleague at the next desk has also received 6% plus a free parking space worth 4-5% of your salary.

These things are a. Relative, and b. public;  and should be transparently awarded with justification.

I have use of a car park space in town immediately opposite the courts. When I ran law firms I tried to include parking. As you recognise, allocation/entitlement nightmare. CS got rid of nightmare. Now they’ve reintroduced it.

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6 hours ago, John Wright said:

It depends if it’s contractual and you have an allocated space. If it’s available, non allocated, first come first served, it’s not taxable BiK.

 

I think piebaps is right that it parking isn’t usually a taxable benefit. Parking provided by an employer either at or near the employee’s workplace is an exempt benefit - it doesn’t matter if it’s contractual or allocated.

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