Updated: Feb 7, 2021
Taxi drivers licensed with Brighton and Hove City Council could share out a sum total of £500,000 in grant support, after members of the council agreed that the industry is in need of financial support.
Council members said that although £500,000 seemed like a large sum of money, it was in fact only 6% of the total discretionary fund amount, so would leave a fair chunk left over for other sectors which also need funding.
The council has a total of 1,300 licensed drivers, all of which will be able to apply for the grant. If the funding is signed off, each driver could receive around £400 to help with ongoing industry costs.
Council members stressed that the funding is strictly to help with the running of a taxi, such as licence fees, COVID-19 protection equipment and maintenance of the vehicles to meet licensing requirements. The fund is not to be considered as any payment to cover loss of earnings incurred due to the pandemic.
Councillor Mac Cafferty highlighted the ongoing struggles which taxi drivers are facing with work levels plummeting. He also brought attention to an ongoing “frustration” that out-of-town drivers were able to travel into the area and take a percentage of any work that is available, saying they are “hoovering up trade”.
Andrew Peters, Secretary of GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section, told TaxiPoint: “Like all over the country the Brighton & Hove taxi & private hire trade has suffered a catastrophic loss in income with an 80% drop in work. The trade wrote individually and as a collective group to the council as a reminder that many other councils throughout the country have not only awarded grants ranging from one-off payments of £250 to considerably much higher amounts of up to £1500, but even to the extent of ongoing help such as in York and Bury. And unlike other areas where financial help was given for protective screens in the summer the trade here was unable to benefit from similar assistance.
“It is very clear that from comments made at the Thursday Policy & Resources Committee that councillors have fully acknowledged the plight of the trade and even expressed comments about the influx of out-of-town cars not licensed in the city predominantly working here compounding the issues that the local trade has had to endure. There was also praise for the trade for the two ‘Cabs4Jabs’ projects run by the local cab companies to transport people to vaccination centres who would not normally be able to afford the fare, such is the importance of the trade being an integral part of transportation infrastructure. “The agenda pack quoted between £250 and £400 as the proposed one-off payment to the 1300 drivers in the city which was agreed by the councillors in principle. But as yet the trade has not been informed as to what this is going to be so currently its is a guessing game. Whilst the trade is grateful for supportive comments from the cross-party committee of councillors the question that l shall be raising will be as to how these figures were arrived at because so far the response from drivers has been mixed when comparing amounts awarded in other areas.“