Local taxi funding focus is on helping those who have had ‘no additional financial support’ says MSP

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

The focus of Local Authority discretionary funding available to businesses and taxi drivers, is to assist those that have had ‘no additional financial support’ says Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP).

The MSP, Fiona Hyslop, also added that an additional £19million specifically for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be made available in January.

The comments came yesterday following a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the topic of newly self-employed people seeking support during the coronavirus.

Fulton MacGregor, Scottish National Party MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, asked: “I very much welcome the additional discretionary funding that has been put in place.

“Because of the UK Government’s actions, which the cabinet secretary mentioned, some constituents who have contacted me—they include taxi drivers—have had next to no financial support since the pandemic started.

“When does the Government expect that people will be able to apply for and access the discretionary funding?

“Can the cabinet secretary clarify whether taxi drivers will be able to apply for that funding or whether they will have access only to the separate funding stream?”

Fiona Hyslop, Scottish National Party MSP, replied saying: “Originally, the discretionary fund that has been made available to local authorities was seen as a possible source of funding for taxi drivers. Since then, we have identified an additional £19 million specifically for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. That fund will be available in January.

“The focus of the local authorities fund is specifically on those who have had no additional financial support.

“Some taxi drivers will have been able to benefit from either the furlough scheme, if they are employed, or the self-employed scheme. However, we are very cognisant of the fixed-cost issues that taxi drivers face, and that is why additional funding of £19 million has been identified to support them.”

Earlier this week taxi drivers from Unite Union converged around the Scottish Parliament to protest over the lack of Scottish Government support in contrast with that shown for other public transportation industries such as the bus and rail networks.

Unite Scotland also released findings from a survey involving more than 200 taxi drivers across Scotland which showed that 30% of drivers have been unable to access any financial help from government support schemes and around 80% of taxi drivers have lost up to three quarters of their usual incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union is now demanding clarity and the urgent release of the £19million promised by the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes MSP, last week, and a commitment that continued support will be available until there is a return to normality.

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