Updated: Apr 8
Scottish government have today told the country’s taxi operators that there will be no COVID-19 financial support package offered to them according to union officials and operators.
The news has left members of the industry shocked and frustrated, as the operators seek desperate financial aid to help survive and recover from the terrible impact the global pandemic has had on the trade.
A spokesperson from Unite the Union Cab Section has said: “The Cab Section is bitterly disappointed to report that the SNP Government has decided that no money will be made available to taxi operators to mitigate the devastating impact of Covid. Kate Forbes, Cabinet Finance Secretary has rejected Unite proposals for help.
“It is important to know that the UK Government provided adequate funds to help our industry. However, the allocation of monies has left much to be desired. For example, when asked what has happened to the £20M underspend from the £57M taxi support fund, we were advised it goes back to the Scottish Government. When asked if the Scottish Government would be handing it back to the UK Government, a less than transparent response was given. It was along the lines of ‘other sectors may benefit from that money.
“Unite is preparing its response but what we are absolutely clear on, the campaign for fair treatment of our industry is far from over.”
Dougie McPherson, Glasgow Taxis Chairman, responded saying: "We are extremely disappointed by today's decision which leaves taxi operators disproportionately impacted by a lack of Covid funding that has been made available elsewhere.
"The Scottish Taxi Federation put forward a detailed proposal based on researched facts and figures and one which took a realistic view as to what funding might be available and where that was most needed.
"While we were informed today that no such funding is currently available, we are very keen to continue this discussion on behalf of affected operators following the election period and once a new administration has been formed.
"We remain acutely aware that sectors of all shapes and sizes are affected by the current economic environment. However, even without Covid, the taxi trade's roadmap for the future is extremely challenging. The support and partnership working of government at both a national and local level is critical should Glasgow aspire to retain a safe public taxi service fit for the future."
Following growing frustration over the taxi driver ‘postcode lottery’ scenario emerging in Scotland A Scottish Government Minister has now promised to ‘double the taxi grant’ if re-elected.
Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, has promised to use any funds remaining to deliver a second nationwide grant to all eligible recipients of the first taxi and private hire grant.
Kate Forbes MSP, said in a series of tweets last night: “During the election period, I cannot make announcements on behalf of Scottish Government about business grants, including for taxi drivers. However, I can confirm that if re-elected we will double the taxi grant to those already in receipt of the first £1,500 grant.
“Our business support schemes exceed the consequentials we've received, and we've gone further to help a number of industries. We will use any funds available in the taxi scheme to deliver a second grant to all recipients of the first £1,500 grant.
“This is in response to public comments today about Scottish Government not agreeing to further taxi grants, that's partly because announcements cannot be made during the pre-election period.”