Plymouth taxi drivers have claimed that they could be better off claiming benefits rather than actually working as the situation within the industry is so dire at the moment.
Plymouth Live has revealed that the beleaguered cabbies face a massive rise in keeping their vehicles on the road, with a proposed raise of an incredible 96% just to remain operational. The cost of a yearly taxi license for the area is set to increase from £210 to £324, whilst a badge renewal will see an increase from £112 to £165. Taxi drivers in the area are claiming that the working situation is the hardest it has ever been, with drivers earning around £5 per hour, well below the minimum wage. It has been stated that whilst some drivers are paying around £400 per week in running costs, such as rental and fuel, fares have gone up once since 2011, and that was by a mere 50p. The plans to implement the increase was put before the licensing authority on January 10. Drivers have been highly critical of the plans given that they have only recently had to replace vehicles that weren’t emissions compliant, which cost the taxi industry in Plymouth tens of thousands of pounds. It has been alleged that the reason for the increases which will be placed upon the taxi industry is because the licensing authority’s budget has a near £92,000 black hole. Conversely, the authority’s private hire budget is around £14,000 in the black. Private hire drivers in the region won’t get off scot -free either, they face a rise in their yearly vehicle license fee from £117 to £170, with a rise in the yearly PHV drivers license increasing from £82 to £120. Drivers have claimed that another reason for the proposed increases are because the councils are haemmorhaging money after taking drivers to court over disciplinary issues and subsequently losing those cases in court. Other proposed increases are a rise in new driver application fees and a charge for a spoken English test for prospective taxi and private hire drivers. In a report to its Taxi Licensing Committee, Plymouth City Council claimed that fees need to be set at a level which will recover administration and licensing costs. It also stated that fees will have to rise again next year, to ensure that the taxi deficit continues to reduce. In the meantime it remains questionable as to whether driving a taxi in Plymouth is economically viable for many drivers.