Casino bosses have warned London mayor Sadiq Khan that plans to extend the capital’s congestion charge will be a “tax on workers” and put them at risk of Covid-19.
Under changes announced last month, the charge will run until 10pm, seven days a week, from June 22.
The cost of the charge will also rise to £15 under the temporary changes, which are designed to reduce the number of journeys within the congestion charge zone by one-third.
But in a letter to Mr Khan, Paul Willcock, chair of the Betting and Gaming Council’s Land Based Casino Group, and COO of Genting UK, said the move would be a hammer-blow to workers in London’s night-time economy.
Writing on behalf of the 15 casinos within the congestion charge zone, he said around two-thirds of their 4,000 employees need to take the car to work.
He said that for a typical employee working five shifts a week, the changes will add around £300 a month to their travel costs.
Mr Willcock called on the mayor to either delay the changes for night-time workers, or allow them to be reimbursed for the cost.
He said: “This impact will be accentuated by the fact that many of our staff will be returning to work initially part-time whilst our customer base gradually rebuilds.
“We recognise that the measure is temporary and applaud the introduction of an exemption for NHS and healthcare workers. We encourage you to review this proposal to see if something can be done to alleviate its impact on appropriate night-time economy workers. As it stands the proposal may feel like a tax on London’s night-time economy workforce.
“As we seek to reopen, get our staff back to work, and get the night-time economy moving, we are keen to ensure staff can travel in a covid-secure environment whilst also allowing them the option to travel at night and in the small hours in a way that they feel safest.
“Delaying the introduction for night-time economy workers or extending the Congestion Charge reimbursement scheme for this key group would enable a return to work in a way which supports the economy and a covid-secure environment for all. Without a delay or exemption, I am concerned that our staff will see public transport as the only option.”