Councils Cash £847 Million from Parking, While Road Improvements Cut

Councils Cash £847 Million from Parking, While Road Improvements Cut

10 Jan

By Clarissa Hearn

In a new investigation by, councils have ramped up their income from motorists by £168 million in five years on parking. However, these profits are not always spent on improving the roads for motorists. In fact, councils are spending £400 million less on road improvements than they were five years ago, leaving motorists confused about where the money is being spent.
A new interactive map created by reveals the money spent by local authorities on roads dropped from £2.8 billion (2013/14) to £2.4 billion (2017/18), a significant 21%, but there is little reason for this cut in budgets given the amount of money councils receive from parking alone increased from £682 million (2013/14) to £847 million (2017/18) a 10% increase.

Further research found that motorists believe parking profits should be spent making driving a better experience, with more than half wanting to see the money spent on improving road conditions, but as it stands, more than 43% are in fact confused as to where the money from parking is being spent at all.

According to the data, local authorities in 101 of 176 counties/areas have increased their net income from parking – 87 of which have reduced their spending on roads at the same time.
It seems the issue is more prolific in some areas of England, Scotland and Wales. Newport City Council in particular saw the amount of money they received in parking increase dramatically by 1645.7%! (£16,000 13/14 - £306,000 17/18)
However, it appears this extra profit has not been spent making road conditions better for drivers, as the amount the council budgeted on road services increased just 1.5% over the course of the five years (adjusted for inflation).
Most increased profits from parking from 2013/14 to 2017/18
Council or county Net income from parking in 2013/14 Net income from parking in 2017/18 % increase
(adjusted for inflation)
Newport £16,000 £306,000 1645.7%
Leicester City £631,000 £3,658,000 429.2%
Havering £758,000 £3,614,000 335.2%
Wrexham £-149,000* £301,000 284.4%
Argyll & Bute £69,000 £274,000 262.5%
*The cost of parking services exceeded revenue
While these increases are shocking, some councils across Britain taking in an even greater amount of money from parking in their areas. Westminster City Council received a whopping £69 million in 2017/18 alone. This is a 43% increase over the course of five years, when the council received more than £44 million in comparison.
Meanwhile, some councils did make some good use of their parking revenue. Hackney Council in particular increased its budget for road services by 65% over five years. However, this still did not match the increase in the amount of parking cash it brought in as this increased more than 83% since 2013/14.
Most increased spending on roads from 2013/14 to 2017/18
Council or county Net spending on roads in 2013/14 Net spending on roads in 2017/18 % increase
(adjusted for inflation)
Hackney £7,422,000 £13,416,000 65.0%
Hounslow £10,049,000 £17,342,000 57.5%
Tower Hamlets £2,753,000 £4,559,000 51.2%
East Renfrewshire £7,051,000 £9,925,000 28.5%
North East Lincolnshire £6,481,000 £8,315,000 17.1%
This lack of spending has been recognised by motorists, as more than 41% of UK drivers say they have not noticed any improvements to the conditions of roads in their area over the past five years.  It is no wonder almost 37% of motorists are confused about why more is not being done to improve road conditions given the amount of money local authorities receive in fines. Almost one in two even go as far as to say councils treat motorists as ‘cash cows’.
However, not spending the extra cash to service roads has also cost councils a pretty penny. Poor road conditions are a known bug bear of motorists, mostly because of the damage it can cause to cars, which has come at the expense of councils. 25% of UK drivers have received damage to their vehicle due to poor road conditions in the past two years, which has cost them an average £117 to repair. Some of these motorists turned to the councils to cover this cost, with more than one in seven claiming compensation from their local authority, receiving £109 on average. Perhaps with more spend dedicated to improving road surfaces, councils would not be forced to pay out potentially thousands of pounds in compensation.
You can read more about this issue here: The Depth of the Problem - UK potholes reach four times the depth of the Pacific

While councils rightly charge motorists to park to cover their own expenses, parking mishaps are also a big money maker for councils and car park owners. 50% of UK drivers find themselves on the receiving end of a parking or motoring fine at some point. Of these, more than half paid the fine, but at a reduced price. However, some motorists have been fortunate to avoid paying the fine, with almost one in six drivers who have successfully refuted it. Not all motorists would be equipped with the information to contest a charge to help them avoid paying unnecessary fines, almost one in five wish there was more advice on refuting parking or traffic fines. To provide motorists with clarity on their rights when it comes to challenging a fine, and how to do so, has created a go-to guide to fighting parking fines, which guides them through the process.
You can read more about Confused’com’s research into council spending and fines here:
Motorists are Fined £4m for Abusing Disabled Parking Spaces
Councils pocketing £41 million from drivers in bus lane fines
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “Our interactive map reveals parking charges and fines have put hundreds of millions of pounds into the pockets of councils.While councils are often justified in charging for parking and issuing fines for illegal parking, many motorists are confused about why this money isn’t being re-invested into our roads. Poor road conditions is a major concern for drivers, with roads riddled with potholes and unclear markings, it’s no wonder drivers want councils to be putting more into making these better. Parking and other charges are a huge burden on motorists, when the cost of driving is already very expensive. Those who think they have been fined unfairly are within their rights to challenge it, and our guide offers advice on how to do this.”

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