Local Authorities are ‘best placed’ to understand taxi driver support needs, says Transport Minister

A transport minister has said Local Authorities are ‘best placed to understand local demand and driver need’ when it comes to supporting taxi and private hire drivers through the pandemic.

Whilst the Government did admit to recognising the ‘difficulties those working in the taxi and private hire vehicle sector face during the pandemic’, the Government remains keen to distance themselves from any national industry specific funding.

Recently in Scotland and Northern Ireland their Governments have introduced targeted financial help for the struggling taxi industry.

This week the Scottish Government announced a vital new £19million fund to financially assist taxi drivers during the coronavirus pandemic.

On 29 October, Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced a £14million package would go directly to taxi drivers. This meant a one-off cash payment of £1,500 to each eligible cabbie.

Lilian Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, asked the Secretary of State for Transport: “What recent discussions he has had with local authorities on support for taxi drivers and private hire companies during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Rachel Maclean MP responded saying: “The Government recognises the difficulties those working in the taxi and private hire vehicle sector face during the pandemic. The Department has maintained close contact with representatives from the taxi and private hire vehicle trade throughout the pandemic, including those representing local authorities responsible for the licensing of the taxi and private hire vehicle sector.

“Local authorities are best placed to understand local demand and driver need and we are aware that some local authorities are supporting the sector.

“From 2 December councils in England in Tier 2 and Tier 3 will receive funding to provide grants to closed businesses (Local Restriction Support Grants) and to be able to run local discretionary grant schemes to provide support to affected businesses.

“These allocations will be published shortly and are in addition to the £2.3bn already provided to local councils since the start of the pandemic. The Local Authority administers the scheme and determines on a case-by-case basis where to allocate this funding.”

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