Scotland’s First Minister ‘hopes’ funding to help taxi drivers and other small local business will ‘start to flow in the very near future’.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced new measures to help taxi drivers financially affected by the impact of coronavirus on Tuesday 17 November. It was announced a new £30million fund was made available to Local Authorities which would provide additional help to taxi drivers and other businesses hit by COVID-19.
However according to several MSP’s the funding is yet to be released to cabbies across Scotland.
Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, this week told Scottish Parliament that taxi drivers were financially ‘hanging by a thread’ whilst awaiting the new Government lifeline fund to open.
Bob Doris, Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, asked the First Minister directly: “I have been contacted by several constituents who are taxi drivers and who have seen their incomes melt away as Covid-19 restrictions have continued to impact the communities that we all represent.
“Taxi drivers were encouraged by the First Minister’s recent announcement that they would be able to claim funds from the Scottish Government via local councils. However, will she now provide an update, including details of when payments are likely to be made, what the criteria are likely to be and when the first payments are likely to arrive in the bank accounts of taxi drivers who are currently very hard pressed?”
Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, said: “I draw the member’s attention to the discretionary fund to which I alluded in my previous answer. It is designed specifically to target small businesses and the self-employed, which very much includes taxi drivers who have not received direct financial support through other schemes.
“Since October, we have been working with local authorities to develop the detail of the discretionary fund, to ensure that the additional financial support that it provides will quickly reach businesses that need it. We have now reached agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on allocations, which will allow such funding to start to flow to local authorities and allow them to start to assess applications on the basis of need.
“I hope that that will allow money to start to flow in the very near future not just to taxi drivers but also to other small or self-employed operations that need that kind of support.”