The Mayor of London has highlighted the ‘plight’ of the taxi and private hire industry to the Chancellor, including asking for exemptions to be made on electric taxi purchases when calculating Government SEISS grants.
Across the UK the taxi and private hire industry has been hit hard financially due to the impact of the pandemic. Enforced Government lockdowns and restrictions since March 2020 has seen work levels plummet to unsustainable levels.
London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon detailed the direct support provided by other authorities in England and the devolved nations. She went on to ask the London Mayor what could be done to assist the capital’s cabbies.
In Northern Ireland it was recently announced that taxi drivers were to receive a second grant worth £1,500 to help cover the high expenses of running a licensed taxi. Cabbies in Scotland have also been granted targeted support with further details to be released this month.
Taxi drivers investing in new Zero-Emissions Capable (ZEC) are likely to be paying around £1,200 each month on the vehicle finance and insurance costs before any fuel expenditure.
With all London cabbies classed as self-employed many have relied on the Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which provides funds based solely on profit and does not take into account high business costs.
Pidgeon AM asked the London Mayor via a written question: “I understand that in Liverpool taxi drivers have been given a grant by Liverpool City Council, which is effectively a refund of their licence fee. In other areas one off grants have been provided such as in Sheffield. I further understand that the devolved administrations in both Northern Ireland and Scotland have announced funds to help struggling taxi drivers.
“Please set out what steps you have taken or intend to take to supporting taxi drivers operating in London. Please also set out whether you have taken any steps to lobby the Government to offer any assistance to taxi drivers, many of whom are part of the 3 million excluded from Government pandemic support.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, responded saying: “I am aware of the significant effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on taxi and private hire drivers.
“I have recently written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to draw his attention to the plight of taxi and private hire drivers in London.
“I have highlighted the vital roles of the taxi and private hire trades in London and asked the Chancellor to consider how to allow for more flexibility in the way that the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants are calculated, to ensure that self-employed and gig economy workers are able to accurately reflect the work that they have done and receive the support they need.
“I have also urged consideration of how to exempt zero-emissions capable (ZEC) taxi purchases from capital allowances so that drivers claiming income support due to COVID are able to access adequate support for their work from the past three years.
“Transport for London (TfL) has provided a range of measures to support taxi and private hire drivers during the pandemic. The most recent support initiative saw the distribution of stickers to be displayed in vehicles reassuring passengers that their driver is ‘coronavirus prepared’ as well as providing face masks and hand sanitisers to drivers, in advance of the festive period when some people were increasing their journeys.
“TfL has also met regularly with trade representatives to understand their concerns and has published numerous regulatory notices containing advice and guidance on the safe operation of services and where to access financial support and health and wellbeing services.”