Updated: Apr 1
Nearly nine in ten struggling London taxi drivers say the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants do not cover both their living and business expenses according to a new survey.
The study also revealed that over half of all taxi drivers are currently not working as cabbies, with a huge number of those not stepping in a black cab since the first lockdown in Spring 2020.
The survey, conducted by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), highlights the devastating financial impact of the pandemic on the taxi industry.
Of the 1,104 LTDA member respondents, 99.8% said their income had been affected by the pandemic. 25.5% of those said they currently had no income at all from driving a taxi due to the pandemic, and 34.8% said they were earning 20% or less of their usual income.
79% were receiving support from the Government through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, but of these drivers 87% said the grants they receive are not sufficient to cover both their living and business expenses.
53% of respondents told the LTDA they are not currently working as a taxi driver. 41% of those have not worked since the first lockdown in March / April 2020 and another 40% last worked in November / December 2020, when Tier 4 restrictions were introduced in London.
Just 5% have received grants from their local council.
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, wrote in TAXI newspaper: “We recently did a survey of members on the impact of the pandemic. We already knew the answers to the questions we asked, but wanted to get some data to help us make it clear to policy makers that our industry continues to need more support, not just to survive until trade properly picks up, but also to recover fully in the months and years ahead.
“We’ve already presented the findings to the Department for Transport and other officials.”
The imminent fourth Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant will provide a taxable grant calculated at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits. The grant will be paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total.
Taxi drivers across the UK have felt the financial squeeze due to the grants' focus on profits rather than turnover. Cabbies, especially those who own or finance their vehicles, have had to endure high fixed business costs with very little work to cover the expenditure.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there has been specific extra support packages directed at taxi drivers worth up to £6,000 throughout the pandemic. In London there has been no such financial support.