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SASW disappointed by failure to extend workplace parking levy exemption to social workers

SASW were disappointed to note that the workplace parking levy does not include an exemption for social workers, as Stage 2 proceedings of the Transport (Scotland) Bill have drawn to a close. This is despite the evidence we provided the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, outlining the significance of car use within the profession and calling on social workers to be exempt from paying the levy at a national level. NHS premises remain exempt.

Alistair Brown, National Director of SASW, said: “Whilst we accept that this levy is “on premises, not on professions”, we believe this decision highlights the unjustified privilege that is extended to NHS staff and sites. A small minority of nursing and medical staff have an explicit need to utilise their cars and travel to assess or visit patients within the community. By contrast, the sheer volume of casework social workers engage in on a day to day basis means that public transport is not a feasible option when carrying out statutory duties which may involve multiple visits at multiple locations. Car use – and therefore parking the car outside your workplace – is essential for the social work role”.

Cars are used by those within the profession to transport, assess and support some of the most vulnerable people in our society – in many instances in emergency situations. The decision to maintain an exemption on NHS premises and fail to extend this to social workers reflects disparity between health and social services. This is particularly problematic in the context of the Scottish Government’s commitment to more integrated health and social care provision.

We have invited John Finnie MSP to meet with SASW, to respond to his strong criticism during the oral evidence at Stage 2 that we should be pressing councils to provide sufficient pool and electric cars to social workers, to facilitate the responsive statutory work they undertake in the community. His office has yet to respond to our request. We will continue to lobby MSPs on extending the exemption to social workers as the bill progresses to the third and final stage.  

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