Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Some cabbies working in the capital CAN make a claim for local coronavirus discretionary grants says taxi trade association.
Licensed taxi drivers in London and across the UK have struggled to earn a living since COVID-19 restrictions were first put in place in March 2020.
Whilst some of the 20,000 cabbies registered as self-employed workers have been entitled to benefit from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the grant focuses heavily on the driver profits. The high operating costs involved in running a licensed taxi means many are still struggling to find enough work to tide them over until the pandemic passes.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) has been calling for additional support specifically for the taxi industry. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland funds have been created to assist cab drivers in need.
Recently the LTDA has been calling on the Government, London Mayor and London Boroughs to provide specific financial support for taxi drivers. They also continue to put across the need for extra support working with the Transport Select Committee, Opposition Parties, MPs and London Assembly Members amongst others.
In an email from the LTDA General Secretary, he told members that local authorities could use discretionary funding schemes to provide support to taxi drivers financially struggling during the pandemic.
It was however highlighted that the eligibility criteria varies from borough to borough and that not all boroughs will open the funds to cabbies in need. According to the LTDA, Southwark, Lambeth and Bexley councils have specifically told the association that they can apply.
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said: “Before Christmas they (the Government) said local authorities could use discretionary funding they had been given to support businesses hit hardest by COVID, to support taxi drivers if they wanted. Since then, we have been speaking with all the London Boroughs and all the council areas where our members live (more than 60 different councils) asking them to do so.
“Not every council has a scheme as yet, as they have all used this discretionary funding differently and the schemes that do exist all have different criteria / eligibility requirements, for example some are now open to freelancers and the self-employed (so would be available to members), others are only open to those who have not been able to claim the SEISS grants from Government and some areas have specifically made them available to taxi drivers.”
McNamara added: “To find out if you can apply for financial support in your area, you will need to look on your local council's website to see if you are eligible for any of their schemes. The schemes that may be open to you are usually called Additional Restrictions Grants or Discretionary Grants.
“If you are eligible, there are no guarantees, as each council will consider your application individually. Some seem to prioritising grants based on the level of need, whereas others are issuing grants on a first come, first served basis.“