Tensions rising as details of Scottish taxi support package remains unknown

Tensions are rising in the Scottish taxi trade as details surrounding the financial support package promised to the industry this month remain unknown.

The concerns come as there is no further news on the Scottish Government’s promise of a new £19million fund to financially assist taxi drivers during the coronavirus pandemic which was announced on 9 December 2020.

The £19million fund is part of a wider £185million package of targeted coronavirus (COVID-19) support. It was said businesses can expect to apply for all the new grant schemes in January.

Currently no further details on when the grant will open or how much each grant will be worth has been released.

With restrictions put in place across the UK since the outbreak started in Spring 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has caused ongoing low-levels of work for thousands of taxi drivers.

Whilst as self-employed workers many cabbies have been entitled to benefit from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the grant focuses heavily on the driver profits. The high operating costs involved in running a licensed taxi means many are still struggling to find enough work to tide them over until the pandemic passes.

Before Christmas Scottish taxi drivers held a ‘mobile demonstration’ at the Scottish Parliament to protest over the lack of Scottish Government support in contrast with other public transportation industries such as the bus and rail networks.

According to a Unite Scotland survey conducted before Christmas, 30% of taxi drivers had been unable to access any financial help from government support schemes and around 80% of taxi drivers had lost up to three quarters of their usual incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section wrote via social media on New Year’s Day: “Nearly a month on, we STILL await Scottish Government setting out the application process to access funding announced for the taxi trade. Absolutely woeful response to a crisis 10 months in the making.”

Unite’s Edinburgh Cab Branch also shared their opinion: “To be honest, sick to the back teeth tweeting and retweeting to politicians, only to be A. Ignored, B. Fobbed off with platitudes or C. Both of the above.

“Scottish Government, Kate Forbes MSP and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon need to show leadership and ensure self employed (especially taxi drivers) are given financial help.”

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