Updated: Nov 1
Working taxi drivers in Northern Ireland will each receive a £1,500 cash boost to help compensate for the financial impact on the industry caused by COVID-19.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today announced a £19million Support Fund for Taxi Drivers and Private Coach and Bus Operators. £14million will be directed towards the taxi industry, with the remaining £5million going to the bus and coach industries.
The support fund recognises the exceptional circumstances that these businesses have faced from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and is to assist with unavoidable overheads and loss of income during this time.
Speaking after the Executive meeting where the support fund was agreed, Minister Mallon said:
“COVID-19 has presented many challenges and worries and has been an unprecedented time for everybody not least those in the taxi, private bus and coach industry.
“With the introduction of restrictions from the beginning of the pandemic, affecting schools, hospitality, tourism, sport and many other areas of normal life, these businesses have been severely impacted and many face an uncertain future.
“Over the last few months I have met representatives from these businesses and heard at first-hand how their lives and livelihoods have been affected. I am therefore very pleased today to announce that a £19m Support Fund will open in the next few weeks.”
The proposed scheme for taxis is intended to open in the week beginning 9 November and, subject to securing the necessary approvals, will provide a set amount of £1,500 for each eligible taxi driver who has been available for work since the pandemic started.
It will be a one off payment in recognition of the financial pressures sustained by taxi drivers due to COVID-19 and the additional costs incurred on PPE.
Minister Mallon continued:
“I have listened intently to the concerns of taxi drivers over recent months and pledged to do all that I can to help them at this extremely difficult time.
“While some of the larger operators have been able to avail of other support schemes many taxi-drivers have not been eligible for support for their overheads when they have suffered significant downturn in their trade.
“I hope that this new funding of £14m along with the £1.2m that I have already put in place to waive fees for the renewal of taxi vehicle licences will enable drivers to continue to work and therefore be available in the post-COVID recovery period.”