While NHS staff face a £90m parking bill from April, MPs can have a free parking space at their place of work – and claim for parking charges while out on constituency business
Tory ministers have been branded “hypocrites” as MPs are offered free parking spaces in Parliament – while free parking is axed for most NHS staff.
Each member of Parliament is entitled to one parking permit in the Palace of Westminster, free of charge.
While MPs are encouraged to use public transport, their parking has been free since at least 2015, and Parliament has an underground car park.
MPs and their staff can also claim parking for work in their constituency on expenses, with 249 such claims totalling nearly £10,000 paid out last year.
It comes after Mr Javid announced NHS staff free parking introduced as a result of Covid will end.
Parking fees were waived in March 2020 – but Mr Javid said the pandemic had moved to a new stage.
Rachel Harrison, national officer at the GMB union, said: “If it’s good enough for MPs then it should be good enough for NHS workers.
“Our members will be appalled by the hypocrisy of Ministers pushing this through who enjoy free parking at their own place of work.
“Nurses, cleaners, porters and more have run themselves into the ground keeping people alive during this pandemic. Now we’ve got the worst cost of living crisis for a generation.
“Health workers need help and support to stop them either leaving the profession or burning out.
“Instead they’re getting a real terms pay cut and car parking charges – this is not levelling up, this is a downright disgrace.”
Union chiefs warned NHS staff face a multi million pound car parking bill from Friday.
The GMB said official figures for the financial year 2019/20 – the year before charges were lifted for the pandemic – showed that health workers paid £90.1 million in car parking fees.
Unison and Labour warned the charges could trigger resignations.
The union’s head of health Sara Gorton said: “This is no way for the NHS to hang on to staff in the current job market.
“Parking charges will add hundreds of pounds to the massive cost pressures already facing health staff and reduce their morale even further.
“Those already on the brink of leaving the NHS may well see this as the final straw and head for the exit.”
Keir Starmer ’s spokesman added: “It seems a very odd way to thank NHS staff for their efforts over the pandemic, to increase the cost of living crisis and take away free hospital parking at this time.
“This could be yet one more thing that forces people to quit roles that we need to boost.”
Figures from before 2015 suggested around half of MPs had a permit to park on the Parliamentary estate.
But parking is not guaranteed for Parliament’s staff, who can only apply if they have to be on the estate at overnight or have a diversity-related need.
Free parking for NHS staff was already being scaled back in the wake of the pandemic.
St Thomas’ Hospital – opposite Parliament on the other bank of the Thames – charges £3.20 an hour for the public, and much less for staff.
Staff who drive to the central London hospital pay a “competitive” £1.50 to £2.50 for a whole shift. However, they are only eligible for free parking while working nights. A spokesperson for the hospital Trust said: “Otherwise, we encourage staff to use public transport, cycle or walk to our central London site, where possible.”
Boris Johnson ’s official spokesman defended the move, saying: “You’ll know we took that approach at the height of the pandemic and clearly that comes with a cost to the taxpayer. We are returning to the pre-pandemic position.”
The spokesman pointed to the Tory election pledge to give free parking to blue-badge holders; people with long-term health conditions; parents of sick children staying overnight; and staff on night shifts.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said 94% of NHS Trusts are implementing free parking for those who need it most.
He added: “We do want more NHS staff to be able to benefit from free parking but clearly there are limits on what individual trusts can provide.”