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‘STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE’: Newly qualified taxi drivers receiving no SEISS grant left on the brink

“I am struggling to survive” says newly qualified London taxi driver who has received no government support grants since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 self-employed workers who have not qualified for any Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants, because they are newly qualified and hold no tax returns with HMRC. Those included in that figure were newly qualified cabbies who took the plunge to start something new and follow their passion.

Those effected are individuals who set up business after 6 April 2019 and therefore do not have a tax return from the required 3 year period spanning between April 2016 and April 2019.

Abdul, a recently qualified London taxi driver from Harlesden, is one such taxi driver that has fallen through the support gaps. He says: “My dream was to be a London Taxi Driver. I was on the knowledge for four years and got my badge in January 2020. After a few weeks renting a taxi, I purchased a new electric taxi for £57,000, taking out a finance agreement to make this possible.

“I did not receive any government grant through the self-employed furlough scheme because I am new to the trade and had not previously filed a tax return. Because of the lack of any real income, we have moved in with my in-laws with our two young children. We have limited space and during lockdown in particular, this caused a lot of stress for the whole family.

“Although I got a three-month payment holiday from the finance company, I am currently still unable to make full payments on my cab and have been informed that making reduced payments will put me into arrears and impact my credit rating, which is a huge concern.

“I am currently working seven days a week to try and earn enough to support my family. But with earnings as they are, I am struggling to survive.”

According to ExcludedUK, a volunteer-led non-profit organisation seeking to amplify the voices of taxpayers excluded from financial support, there are approximately 3 million UK workers receiving no support.

Richard Massett, Chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), spoke recently on the topic of dwindling work levels experienced by those working in the taxi industry.

Massett said: “With fare income once again being decimated by new restrictions and a new lockdown starting later this week, the situation is only going to get worse. Many more drivers will reach a cliff edge over the next three months, as support through the SEISS, for those who have been able to claim it, plummets and motor finance payment holidays come to an end.

“Others are yet to have received any kind of financial support from Government, as they were ineligible for the SEISS, including those who had recently purchased a new electric cab and claimed capital allowances. These drivers are now reaching a point where they simply can’t earn enough to carry on. The taxi trade urgently needs a tailored package of support to help it survive the difficult winter ahead.”


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