Unite Scotland urges all local authorities to SUSPEND taxi licensing fees to aid industry recovery

Image credit: Eric Veiga (Upsplash)

Unite Scotland has welcomed news of a ‘top-up’ grant for the taxi trade by Aberdeen City Council, but has continued to urge all local authorities to suspend licensing fees to aid the industry‘s recovery.

As one of Scotland’s largest cities, the financial support for taxi drivers through a discretionary top-up of £1,000 has come as welcome news following the collapse of the taxi trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support is in addition to a £1,500 grant, which has already been paid out to eligible licence holders, and allocated from the Scottish Government’s Local Authorities Discretionary Fund which awarded £6m to the local authority.

The news follows Dundee City Council’s recent announcement to also open a £1,000 grant for taxi and private hire drivers. In Angus Council, taxi drivers will get an additional £2,500 financial support grant on top of the initial £1,500 grant made available.

Unite is demanding that all local authorities in Scotland suspend licensing fees to assist drivers at this time. Last week, it was reported that taxi and private hire car drivers will have their current single-year licences extended to cover two years at no additional cost in a budget move agreed by West Dunbartonshire Council.

Unite is also calling on the Scottish Government to deliver a £10,000 grant for each taxi operator, which is the equivalent support being given to other small business owners, and for an additional second cash grant to drivers from the £57million Coronavirus (COVID-19): Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund.

Unite has discovered that as of 26 February, £29,125,500 has been paid out of the fund to 19,417 drivers which accounts for only 58% of all the eligible drivers.

Marc Jackson, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite welcomes this increased financial support by Aberdeen City Council. The extra money is welcome relief for drivers who have struggled for over a year now to make ends meet alongside the well documented difficulties in accessing government support.

“It’s vital that all local authorities across Scotland now follow the lead being set by Aberdeen City Council and others including Dundee and Angus. Far more needs to be done to support the taxi trade including the suspension of license fees. We hope that other local authorities sit up and take notice of what has been done here in Aberdeen and follow suit immediately.”