UK Councils lose at least £41.3M (71%) in parking fine income during lockdown

(Updated with Edinburgh & Belfast data 30/9/2020 12:04)

At LeaseFetcher, we are ever the optimists. The COVID-19 total lockdown and the easing of restrictions has been by no means easy - but there have been some plus sides:

  • An extra hour in bed rather than face a busy commute with grumpy office workers? Hit the snooze button!
  • Being able to cook yourself a proper lunch, rather than eat a sad looking meal deal sandwich al desko? Get that oven preheated!
  • Having loads of extra time to watch every box set you’ve been meaning to get round to? Load up Netflix!
  • And since you’re barely ever leaving the house for any length of time - no parking fines! Result!

Not having to worry about parking fines has been great news for us motorists. Councils however, haven’t partaken in the joy. We investigated how much motorists across the biggest cities in the UK actually saved in parking fines during lockdown, or in other words - how large an income the councils missed out on. 

We submitted FOI requests to the largest UK councils* to see how much money they made from PCNs (Parking Charge Notice) during lockdown (April 2020 to June 2020) compared to the same period of the previous year.

Largest Cities (Including London)

We analysed the data separately for 20 of the largest UK cities and 23 of the London Boroughs - when this data is combined, the figures are astounding.

In total, these councils lost £41,316,479.09 during lockdown compared to the same period of the previous year.

Between April and June 2019, these councils made a cumulative total of £58,162,078.72.

When lockdown hit this year, this sum was squashed right down to £16,845,599.63 - a 71% loss.

Largest Cities (Excluding London)

Councils up and down the UK lost an unprecedented amount of PCN income during lockdown.

Between April and June 2019, 20 of the largest UK cities (excluding London) made the princely sum of £11,578,456.31 from paid parking fines.

With the nation entering lockdown, however, many councils temporarily stopped issuing PCNs, relying on the income from notices issued in previous months.

During lockdown (April 2020 to June 2020), this income plummeted to £2,027,220.59. This is a drop of £9,551,235.72, an 82.5% decrease!

largest uk cities pcn income 2019 vs 2020

May was the worst hit month overall, generating only £425,742.35 compared to the £3,987,404.18 the same month the year before (a 89.3% drop).

Things picked up in June for most cities, with the overall income jumping up to £1,041,098.15 compared to £3,729,695.81 the year before (a 72.1% drop).

As a percentage of their original income, Leicester was the worst affected city, losing 99.21% of their PCN income! Cardiff and Belfast followed, losing 98.6% and 95.4% of their incomes respectively.

Percentage-wise, Birmingham was least affected, losing 68.1% of its income.

% loss of income pcn

In terms of actual monetary value, Glasgow lost the most - the difference between 2019 and 2020 figures showed a £1,209,791.71 decrease.

Rotherham lost the least - £65,151.

£ decrease largest city pcn income

Key Takeaways:

  • These top 20 cities lost £9,551,235.72 (-82.5%).
  • May yielded a record-low PCN income figure (-89.3%).
  • Leicester lost the highest percentage of their income (99.21%).
  • Glasgow lost the highest monetary figure (-£1,209,791.71).
  • Birmingham lost the smallest percentage of their income (-68.1%).
  • Rotherham lost the smallest monetary figure (-£65,151).

London

London might as well be a country of its own, so we delved into these figures separately. We received figures for 23 of the London Boroughs.

london pcn income 2019 vs 2020

Combined, the London Boroughs generated £31,765,243.37 less than last year - a drop of 68.1%.

Between April and June 2019, London generated £46,583,622.41 from PCNs - this dropped to a “measly” £14,818,379.04 during lockdown and the early phase of restriction easing.

london pcn income 2019 vs 2020

April was the worst month for London - office commuters opting to stay at home and city-dwellers holed up in their flats brought the income down to £2,326,130.45, an 84.9% drop from the £15,402,600.11 generated the previous year.

By June, the figure had climbed three-fold, with £8,080,236.88 generated, a much lower 46.8% drop from the previous year.

As a percentage of last year’s income, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea sustained the worst loss of 96.91%. 

% decrease london pcn income

The London Borough of Camden lost the highest overall figure - £3,375,989.29. Least affected, both percentage-wise and in terms of overall figure) was the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, only sustaining a 12.5% decrease (£106,025.50).

£ decrease london pcn income

Key Takeaways:

  • These 23 London Boroughs lost £31,765,243.37 (-68.2%)
  • April yielded a record-low PCN figure (-84.9%).
  • Kensington and Chelsea lost the highest percentage of their income (-96.91%).
  • Camden lost the highest monetary figure (-£3,375,989.29).
  • Barking and Dagenham lost the smallest percentage of their income and the smallest monetary figure (-12.5% or £106,025.50).

Will PCN income bounce back?

Does this signal the end of PCNs? Unfortunately for ordinary motorists but fortunately for the councils, it does not. As restrictions ease, PCN income is creeping back up towards pre-lockdown levels.

So, next time you take a calculated trip to the city centre for some post-lockdown shopping, make sure you feed the meter and don’t outstay your welcome - the parking attendants are coming back in full force!

Methodology

Using Freedom of Information requests, we obtained the total income from PCNs (for both on and off-street parking) for these areas, broken down by month from January 2019 to June 2020.

*Data was not available for Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sunderland, Barnet, Bexley, Croydon, Lewisham and City of London.