Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced multiple new measures to help the taxi industry rebuild following the end of COVID-19 restrictions.
It was announced today that Minister Mallon plans to take steps to introduce the new support measures, which include fare reviews and wiping out DVA fees, to assist the taxi industry who are struggling to recruit enough taxi drivers to service the region's demand.
The ‘Taxi Action Plan’ proposes to wipe all DVA fees for new taxi drivers in 2021/22 and wipe DVA fees for one taxi meter test required to implement a fare change.
A taxi fare review with the consultation set to launch next week was also announced.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “I continue to meet and listen carefully to the taxi industry and I am very well aware of the impact of Covid on their business. That is why I provided £16.7million of support to existing drivers from the two financial support schemes and regulatory support that I put in place last year. I welcome the fact that business has picked up considerably with the lifting of restrictions, however I recognise that there is currently a shortage of drivers and the sector has asked for my support in encouraging new drivers to join the industry.
“In order to assist the industry to rebuild and to encourage new drivers to enter the business, I am proposing that my Department will provide financial support to cover the fees for new drivers who successfully obtain their taxi driver and vehicle licences from April 21 to March 22. This support from my Department would mean a saving of over £370 for every new driver who successfully passes all the necessary tests to become part of the taxi industry and ensure that I am protecting customers through the provision of a safe taxi service.
“I am also announcing a targeted consultation on a taxi fares review which would address another concern of the industry around profitability and future viability, given that a fares review was last implemented in 2011. In doing so, my Department will consult with the Consumer Council to understand their views and ensure that the interests of customers are fully considered. Should a taxi fares review be implemented following that consultation, I would intend to provide further support to the industry by waiving the fee for the necessary taxi meter test, so that the taxi industry can receive the full benefit of any change to taxi fares.
“I intend to follow all necessary processes to put these support measures in place, including public expenditure processes, ensuring that I have the necessary budget to make this happen and also proposing the required changes to regulations.
“I want to continue to help the industry during these difficult times. These measures would go some way to address the issues raised by the taxi industry to assist it with recovery from the pandemic and to importantly provide support to attract new drivers to the industry.”