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Blackburn & Darwen Council step up to help taxi & private hire drivers by offering financial support

Image credit: Nissan Dynamo/remixed

Blackburn taxi and private hire drivers are now being offered financial support by the council, as the trade looks for much needed assistance amidst the ongoing struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council has announced a one-off grant payment for drivers who have been “severely impacted by the loss of income” since national and local lockdowns were imposed.

The grants will come from the Council’s Discretionary Business Grant Programme, funded by monies allocated from Central Government, and will amount to £500 per eligible applicant.

A council spokesperson has said it “recognises that restrictions on travel, as well as the closure of many venues across the hospitality and leisure sectors, have reduced overall demand for taxi services“ making it extremely difficult for drivers to earn much over much of the last year.

Councillor Phil Riley, Senior Deputy Council Leader and Executive Member for Growth and Development, said: “Whilst the Government’s road map gives us all hope that restrictions will be eased, businesses of all sizes and sectors continue to face significant challenges. As well as businesses required to close due to the national lockdown, these challenges are also being felt by those in the supply chain.

“Taxi drivers, like many who rely on trade from the travel, hospitality and leisure sectors, have been severely impacted, and I’m pleased that the Council is implementing support through its Discretionary grant programme.

“The Council is also continuing to make further grant payments covering the period to the 31st March 2021 to businesses which are mandated to close and those who can still trade but are impacted as a result of the ongoing national lockdown.”

Councillor Quesir Mahmood, Deputy Council Leader and Executive Member for Digital and Customer Services, added: “By listening to the local trade bodies, local drivers and taxi operators, there is no doubt in my mind that the borough’s resident hardworking taxi drivers will have found the past months extremely challenging – I am happy that we can offer this crucial financial support in their time of need.”

Councillor Parwaiz Akhtar is the Chair of the taxi drivers’ forum. He said: “I am delighted the Council is helping the taxi trade at this extremely difficult time. Like a lot of businesses, they are struggling to make ends meet. It important to support the trade now so there is a viable trade ready to go when restrictions start to be lifted.”

To be eligible for the Taxi Driver Covid-19 support grant, a driver must be a resident of Blackburn with Darwen, hold an existing licence issued by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and be able to provide evidence of trading since September 2020.

In addition, documentation allowing the council to verify the applicant’s bank account details (for any grant payable) will also be required.

Applications can be made online via the Council’s website from 9am on Tuesday 2 March 2021, and will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 14 March 2021.

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