The long awaited Government Budget will be delivered on Wednesday and taxi drivers will keeping a close eye on three key areas; SEISS, payment holidays and fuel taxation.
Rishi Sunak will announce full details of his financial plans effecting most sectors and people this week, but here’s where the eyes of self-employed cabbies will be drawn on Wednesday.
Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
SEISS has been a vital lifeline for many self-employed workers hit hard financially by the coronavirus pandemic.
Struggling workers have had one eye on a confirmed fourth SEISS grant covering February 2021 to April 2021 since the last grant closed at the end of January. According to reports from The Telegraph, workers can expect a similar package valued at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
Whilst the value of the forthcoming grant is seen as vital for workers, the future of the scheme remains of equal importance. According to the Government Roadmap there remains several more months of COVID related restrictions lasting all the way through to the summer.
Industries hit by the pandemic, like the taxi trade, will be hoping for continued SEISS support to allow them to build back stronger once the barriers are fully lifted. There are however some reports that SEISS could come to an abrupt end in May.
Prospect General Secretary Mike Clancy responded to the reports saying: “The Treasury has treated the self-employed as an afterthought throughout this crisis, and if this story is correct then this Budget will see one of the biggest betrayals yet.
“The self-employed can power the economic recovery into the medium and long-term but only if they are supported properly now. Ending support in the Spring would cause a fresh crisis for tens of thousands of workers who are already struggling.
“This crisis is not yet over. Instead of putting the brakes on the recovery, Rishi Sunak should be giving it rocket boosters by extending the support scheme and closing the gaps so that all these workers have the freedom and confidence they need to boost the economy through the rest of the year.”
Keeping costs down whilst revenue remains low is key to the taxi industry’s recovery. This goes for all road surface firms including haulage and delivery firms too.
Campaigners FairFuelUK today, wrote to every Tory MP calling on them to urge the Chancellor to maintain the Fuel Duty cap as part of his post pandemic economic plan.
Howard Cox Founder of FairFuelUK said: "Time and time again, Chancellors have proclaimed they are the victims of the 10 years freeze. That they have lost billions and billions of tax revenue due to the Tory inspired fiscal policy. It’s time they told the truth, to stop the well-financed anti-driver green activists claiming motorists, van drivers and hauliers are unfairly subsidised by keeping Fuel Duty at 57.95p/litre."
For many months taxi driver owners have been hoping for a new payment holiday boost on their vehicles.
Since 2018 taxi drivers in London have invested over £200million in nearly 4,000 Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) black cabs. Monthly payments for the ZEC taxi and insurance can cost cabbies around £1,200 each month, at a time when work levels are at a record low due to COVID restrictions.
In March last year black cab drivers were handed the opportunity to take a three-month finance payment holiday, which was designed to ease the burden. As the pandemic progressed this offer was eventually extended by another three-months.
Despite the six-month payment holiday, taxi drivers have continued to struggle financially.
Steve McNamara, Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) General Secretary, said via Taxi Newspaper: “We have been trying to find a solution to help drivers struggling with finance payments and at risk of losing their vehicles. This is particularly important now, as the Financial Conduct Authority’s ban on repossessions came to an end on 31st January and many drivers face the devastating prospect of losing their cab or being forced to voluntarily surrender it.
“It continues to be an uphill battle to find a solution and the Government has so far been unwilling to help. However, the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA), which represents the finance companies, came back to us in January after realising the third lockdown meant that drivers situations were unlikely to improve any time soon.
“They also see that it is in no one’s interest the finance companies or drivers to start repossessing taxis to sell at auction, at a time when there is no market and residual values have plummeted. The FLA have made an offer to the Treasury proposing a solution that would allow them to offer taxi drivers in these difficult circumstances further payment holidays or at least partial payment deferrals until at least July, and potentially until the end of 2021.
“This proposal is now with Treasury officials for consideration ahead of the upcoming Budget.”
All home owners who have been impacted financially by the pandemic have been able to contact their mortgage lenders for support surrounding their mortgage payments.
For self-employed workers in sectors like the taxi industry, mortgage holidays have been a vital support tool for those that have struggled.
Whilst there have been reports of the popular Stamp Duty holiday being extended, there has been little speculation regarding the future of mortgage holidays approaching the Budget.