Social workers have joined a growing public sector revolt against the Scottish Government’s ‘parking tax’, amid claims it is could become unworkable.

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) has written to finance secretary Derek Mackay, demanding its members, like staff in the NHS, are exempted from the workplace car parking levy announced in the recent Scottish budget.

The move comes after teachers’ leaders warned the levy could discourage people from working in inner city schools, exacerbating a recruitment crisis.

Trisha Hall, national director of SASW, said social workers rely on cars to do their jobs and in many areas of the country, especially outside major towns and cities, it would be impossible to work effectively without them. “Public transport may be limited or simply non-existent, and there are many instances where we have to transport people who need or use our services, the letter warns. “It is important that we are able to park outside our various workplaces and have immediate access to cars. “

Ms HAll said SASW understood the need for policies to drive health and environmental benefits, but said it was inconsistent and unfair to exempt NHS premises, but not also make an exemption for staff performing other important roles.

“ I appreciate it would be up to councils to decide whether to introduce this and have also noted that NHS premises will be exemp”t, she said. “I am therefore wondering why there is what appears to be disparity between NHS employees and our workforce in terms of the suggested exemption?”

She said this was especially hard to understand given the Scottish Government’s push for greater integration in health and social care, adding: “with this specific initiative there needs to be consistency in how it is applied to NHS staff and social workers.”

Calling for social work workplaces to be added to the list of premises exempt from the levy, a spokeswoman for SASW said workers could face a greater risk of burnout if parking charges meant they spent more time away from their office and colleagues who can be a source of reflection and support.

The workplace care parking levy is to be introduced as an amendment to the forthcoming transport bill., and was part of a deal struck with the Greens by Mr Mackay in order to get his budget passed at Holyrood. It is designed to reduce congestion and pollution by permitting councils to charge employers up to £400 a year for every free parking space they provide to employees.

However Mr Mackay has come under fire for bringing in the policy without carrying out any economic analysis of its potential impact or without the enhancements of public transport which have been offered when similar policies have been tried elsewhere.

Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the workplace car parking levy looked increasingly unworkable and should be scrapped. “This is a policy which is unravelling by the day. Whe the Scottish Government said NHS property would be exempt it was inevitable that other public sector workers would also argue for exemption,” he says. “But many low paid workers in the private sector will be wondering why they should have to pay this levy if better paid people in the public sector are being allowed exemptions.”