Mayor of London HAS asked the Treasury for ‘targeted financial support’ to be handed to taxi drivers
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
The Mayor of London has written to the Treasury to ask for the ‘provision of targeted financial support’ to be handed to both taxi and private hire drivers in the capital due to the impact of the coronavirus on the industry.
According to the London Mayor, both he and the regulators Transport for London (TfL) recognise the difficulties faced by taxi and minicab drivers as a result of the pandemic.
Due to a series of lockdowns and measures placed on London throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the taxi trade has seen work levels drop to unsustainable levels.
Whilst some self-employed taxi drivers have been able to claim support via the Government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), cabbies who have high business overheads have struggled. Those drivers include taxi drivers who have invested in new greener electric taxi vehicles.
London Assembly Member Susan Hall asked the Mayor to list the meetings held between the Deputy Mayor for Business and the taxi trade since lockdown began in March 2020 plus the outcomes of those meetings.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, responded saying: “Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander is the member of my team who is responsible for engaging with stakeholders representing taxi and private hire drivers alongside Transport for London (TfL). In addition to the frequent conference calls TfL has held with the industry since the pandemic, Heidi met with the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) on 5 June regarding the Streetspace Programme. Heidi most recently met with taxi stakeholders, including the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), United Cabbies Group (UCG), RMT Taxi Branch, Unite and the LTDA, on 15 December.
“TfL and I recognise the difficulties faced by both taxi and private hire drivers. This is why I have written to the Treasury to ask for the provision of targeted financial support and in the coming weeks TfL will be distributing 1.5 million face masks and 30,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for drivers.”
In a recent TaxiPoint interview, LTDA General Secretary, Steve McNamara, said: “The Government support for the taxi trade has been woefully inadequate. We’ve had to fight for support at every turn. First, they failed to immediately recognise the needs of the self-employed and provide financial support for them. When they did eventually introduce the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) it was extremely welcome, but since then it’s been a constant battle to keep it at a level that will provide drivers with a decent level of income, with the Government constantly threatening to cut it and failing to realise how catastrophic the collapse in passenger demand had been for the trade.
“Too many drivers also haven’t been able to claim any support at all, whether it’s those who are new to the trade or perhaps most unfairly those who have recently purchased a new zero emission capable taxi and claimed capital allowances against it. Those drivers did the right thing and now feel like they are being punished for doing so. This can’t be right.
“Policymakers have also been far too slow to realise the impact of the crisis on the trade, only now are the Department for Transport talking about how to get PPE to taxi drivers and they have also only recently provided detailed safer travel guidance for the sector despite the LTDA and other sector organisations having been calling for this since the start of the crisis almost 10 months ago!
“In other areas of the UK, additional financial support has been provided for taxi drivers in recognition of the huge challenges they face. We’ve seen schemes to provide financial support for drivers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Liverpool City Region and Sheffield City Region. I hope that the Mayor of London and Government finally step up and provide the same for drivers in England and specifically in London, and we will keep lobbying them to do so.”