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APPLICATIONS OPEN: Northern Ireland taxi drivers now able to claim second support grant worth £1,500

Image credit: Karl Black

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has today opened a second financial support scheme worth an additional £1,500 for eligible taxi drivers in Northern Ireland.

The new scheme will cover a 12 month period from 22 March 2020 to 21 March 2021.

Drivers who were not eligible for the first scheme, can still be eligible for the second one, with support backdated to 22 March 2020.

Different from the first financial support scheme offered, the grant will be calculated to cover each day that the eligible expenses were incurred.

The scheme open today will be available to Northern Ireland taxi drivers who had either continuous or partial insurance throughout the entire 12 month period thereby capturing applicants who were not eligible at all for the Taxi Driver Financial Assistance Scheme 2020 and then capturing all eligible drivers for the period 1st October 2020 until 21st March 2021.

The support offered will be via a one off bespoke payment and will be made on a pro rata basis reflecting the individual circumstances of and costs incurred by each driver.

This one off payment will count as a contribution to the applicant’s yearly overhead costs including PPE, and recognises the continued financial pressures sustained by eligible taxi drivers due to COVID-19.

Minister Mallon said: “Coronavirus has caused many challenges across our community, disrupting the lives of all of our citizens and adding hardship for families across Northern Ireland. Many workers and businesses have felt the pain of the restrictions economically. While support has been put in place, there have been gaps which is why I stepped up to provide support for the bus and coach industry and for our taxi drivers. Today I am pleased to open a second taxi scheme which will provide support to drivers covering the 12 month period from 22 March 2020 to 21 March 2021.

“It aims to address two issues: first, to provide further support to all eligible taxi drivers for this 12 month period, and second, to now provide financial assistance specifically for those drivers who have had partial insurance during this period. Taking on board learning from the first taxi driver scheme, the application process has also been simplified to address the concerns raised by the sector and this time round drivers will be able to directly contact the Department through a dedicated information line for the scheme. Drivers who were unable to work because they were shielding, but still incurred the overhead costs, will also be able to apply for this new scheme.

“The support reflects the continuing restrictions on hospitality and retail and has been agreed by the Executive. The maximum amount of support available will be £3,000, including any payment already made under the first scheme, and will be dependent on the number of days that taxi drivers had insurance in place over the period. It is in addition to support for self-employed taxi drivers from other schemes such as the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

“I fully appreciate the difficulties that many taxi-drivers, alongside many other workers and businesses, have faced during this last year. I am pleased that my department has acted quickly to receive further powers to ensure that we can provide a second scheme to help those continually affected. This new scheme will be open until 26 February with applications being processed as quickly as possible.”

For cabbies struggling with the application process, an information line has been set up to assist drivers. The number is 028 9054 0605 and is available Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Cabbies have until 26 February to submit an application before the scheme closes.

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