A Department for Transport minister has confirmed they remain in regular dialogue with the taxi and private hire industry and will ‘consider’ ways in which further appropriate support might be provided.
Taxi drivers across the UK have been lobbying for extra financial support to help the industry through the pandemic.
Whilst 80 percent of cabbies are said to be self-employed and could qualify for help via the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), for some the high costs of running a licensed taxi means the grant doesn’t quite stretch far enough for both business and living costs.
Local Authorities in the Liverpool and Barnsley regions have also targeted cabbies for extra support. Barnsley Council has offered cabbies a flat payment of £500 within the region who have suffered loss of income due to wider restrictions having an impact on their trade.
John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, asked via a written question: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will encourage the covid-secure provision of black cabs by issuing bespoke guidance to drivers of those vehicles on safer taxi travel during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will introduce a discount scheme for black cab passengers as restrictions ease and alert levels decline."
Rachel Maclean, DfT Parliamentary Under-Secretary, responded saying: “The Government has published ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators’ on the safe provision of transport services during the pandemic; this is applicable to the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) trade.
“The Government has acted to support those that are self-employed and have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak across all sectors of the economy. The overwhelming majority of taxi and PHV drivers are self-employed and can therefore apply for grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which has been extended to April 2021.
“Over the first three rounds of the scheme, up to £21,570 will have been made available. HMRC will provide details of the final grant, to cover the period from February, in due course.
“The Department is in regular contact with sector representatives to discuss their concerns and will consider ways in which further appropriate support might be provided.”