Taxi drivers struggling financially due to the ongoing pandemic, may be able to apply for financial support through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) made available to local authorities to support small businesses and sole traders where applicable.
During a parliamentary discussion, Labour MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome, asked: “To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, if he will introduce a specific grant for taxi drivers whose incomes have suffered as a result of the covid-19 outbreak?”
Taxi drivers, Unions and Reps for the trade around the UK have been calling for dedicated industry support during a time which has seen work levels plummet to near zero due to national and localised lockdowns.
Secretary of State, Paul Scully, said: “Grant support for Taxi Drivers may be available through the Additional Restrictions Grant, a discretionary scheme administered by local authorities.
“Local authorities are encouraged to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by restrictions but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme. Local Authorities can use their local expertise to target businesses to support in their local area.”
He went on to add that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that an additional £425m will be made available via the Additional Restrictions Grant meaning that more than £2bn has been made available to Local Authorities since November 2020.
On 3 March 2021, the Government announced that the £425million would be made available for local authorities, through a conditional top-up to the Additional Restrictions Grant from 1 April 2021.
The ARG funding scheme aims to support businesses severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions when most needed. Funding was first made available in Financial Year 2020-2021 and can be used across Financial Years 20/21 and 21/22. However, local authorities have been encouraged to distribute funding to businesses who require support as soon as possible.
Funding was originally made available to eligible local authorities at the point they first entered Tier 3 restrictions in October 2020. Local authorities may have accessed additional enhanced business support settlements at this time. These settlements became part of the Additional Restrictions Grant.
All local authorities in England are eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant, subject to conditions being met to receive an allocation of the second funding top-up of £425 million.
Local authorities can use ARG funding for business support activities. This may primarily take the form of discretionary grants, but Local Authorities could also use this funding for wider business support activities.
Local authorities are encouraged to support businesses from all sectors that may have been severely impacted by restrictions, but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme.
This may include, but is not limited to, group travel and tour operators, other tourism businesses (including B&Bs and event industry suppliers), wholesalers, English language schools, breweries, freelance and mobile businesses (including caterers, events, hair, beauty and wedding related businesses), wraparound care providers, and other businesses that may have not received other grant funding, in some cases, the taxi and private hire industry.
Previous guidance for the Additional Restrictions Grant indicated that businesses must have been trading before relevant restrictions were introduced in order to be eligible. This is no longer the case.
All businesses that are trading and meet other eligibility criteria may apply to receive funding under this scheme. There is no starting date from which businesses must have been trading in order to qualify for grant funding.
Depending on who the local authority is, taxi drivers may be able to apply for the financial support. In some cases, the taxi industry has not been included in the criteria which needs to be met by applicants. This doesn’t mean that the criteria will not change in the future.
Drivers should get in touch with their local authority to find out if they are eligible now for funding through the Additional Restrictions Grant, or whether the criteria is likely to change in the near future to include them.