Eligible taxi and private hire drivers in Scotland will receive a £1,500 support grant as a new fund worth £57million for drivers affected by the pandemic launches this week.
Local authorities in Scotland will directly approach an estimated 38,000 private hire and taxi drivers inviting them to claim a £1,500 grant to assist with fixed costs, boosting the support from other funding for loss of income available through the Scottish and UK Governments.
A new total of £57 million has been allocated by the Scottish Government – three times more than the allocation announced in December.
Councils will start contacting eligible drivers this week to brief them on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. They do not need to apply, or contact the local authority.
Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, said: “We know how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families. They’ve truly gone the extra mile, continuing to provide a vital service for key workers and vulnerable individuals throughout the lockdown and beyond.
“Following the introduction of tighter regulations at Christmas I have trebled the budget originally announced for this fund to £57million, enough to provide grants of £1,500 to all of Scotland’s 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers.
“It will help to support the taxi trade by augmenting existing support and assisting drivers in meeting fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road.”
To be eligible for the financial assistance taxi or private hire drivers must be licensed for the period 9 October 2020 to at least 31 January 2021. Applicants can choose whether the payment is made to a business or personal bank account.
Other schemes open to taxi drivers include the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund and the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
Drivers licensed for the period up to 31 December 2020, must also:
have experienced loss of income (50% of turnover, compared with 2019) and incurred overhead costs and expenses
have been working or available for work as a taxi or private hire driver; and not be in receipt of state benefits payments (Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers’ Allowance, Income Support) or have applied for but not yet started receiving Universal Credit at the time of applying.
The driver’s local authority may ask them to provide additional evidence to confirm eligibility and will need bank account details.
In addition drivers must:
not have breached COVID-19 regulations
not have connections to tax havens, as set out in the Coronavirus regulations
declare all previous support from UK, Scottish or local government support schemes.
Unite the Union Edinburgh Cab Branch responded to the news saying: “Very concerning to read that those who have had to claim Universal Credit will not be eligible. This needs to be investigated”
There were further concerns made by taxi drivers over the eligibility criteria of the new fund.
Eddie, a taxi driver from Edinburgh, said: “My wife was made redundant in March, had to claim universal credit to survive, my earnings are less than 50% down yet this criteria will receive zero.
“If Scottish Government and Kate Forbes MSP do this, not only will businesses fail, marriages and lives will be ruined.
“This is bordering on neglect!”
Michael Osborne said: “So basically, lower income families can’t access this, surely they’re the people who need it most.”