The Scottish First Minister does recognise the financial difficulties that taxi drivers now face due to the impact of COVID-19 on industry work levels.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also confirmed that whilst resources were tight, a resolution to help taxi drivers would continue to be sought.
During a debate on the topic of Coronavirus Support Funding at Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the precarious situation faced by cabbies across Scotland was discussed.
Colin Smith, Labour MSP for South Scotland, asked the First Minister: “Across Scotland, our taxi drivers are facing financial ruin with business decimated by COVID restrictions. For many, their cab is their office so they are not eligible for the coronavirus restrictions fund, which pays out only to businesses that are registered for non-domestic rates.
“However, they are viable businesses if they can get through the next few months.
“We have seen support for rail firms, ferry firms and bus companies, so may I ask the First Minister to urgently consider specific support for our forgotten taxi drivers before more of them are forced to join the ranks of Scotland’s rising unemployed?
“Our taxi drivers were there when we needed them at the height of lockdown; they need their Government to be there for them now.”
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, said: “We have sought to provide as much support to as many groups as possible. I recognise the point about non-domestic rates and the difficulties that that causes for some groups of workers and businesses. We will continue to look at what more we can do.
“I make the obvious point that our resources are finite and we cannot continue to stretch them. That is why our discussions with the United Kingdom Government are also a really important part of that.
“However, I recognise the difficulties that taxi drivers face and we will continue to look at what we can do to help them and other groups who are finding the situation so difficult.”
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced a £19million Support Fund for Taxi Drivers and Private Coach and Bus Operators. £14million will be directed towards the taxi industry, with the remaining £5million going to the bus and coach industries.
The proposed scheme for taxis is intended to open in the week beginning 9 November and, subject to securing the necessary approvals, will provide a set amount of £1,500 for each eligible taxi driver who has been available for work since the pandemic started.
It will be a one off payment in recognition of the financial pressures sustained by taxi drivers due to COVID-19 and the additional costs incurred on PPE.