‘We have not forgotten about taxi drivers’ says Scotland’s Secretary for Finance as plans to roll out targeted financial support remain on target for this month.
Tensions had been rising in the Scottish taxi trade as details surrounding the financial support package promised to the industry this month still remain largely unknown.
The concerns surround 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.
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.
Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, said: “We have not forgotten about taxi drivers. I said that applications for support would open in January, and that remains the case. Scot Gov has met with representatives of the industry and their feedback has helped design the scheme. It will launch, as promised, this month.”
Unite the Union Glasgow Cab Section replied to the news simply saying: “It needs to be meaningful support Minister, on a par with the other nations.”
Their Unite colleagues in Edinburgh also highlighted the ‘meaningful’ need for the support. They said: “I sincerely hope you haven't Kate. You'll be aware of the £4k provided to taxi driver by Welsh Assembly & 2 x £1.5k in N Ireland.
“This support needs to be meaningful and worthwhile. Drivers going bankrupt daily. We would love to discuss our specific issues over zoom with you.”
Scotland’s App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) also responded to Forbes MSP via social media saying: “We eagerly await the details of this grant. It can’t come soon enough.
“The mountain of costs that drivers are facing hasn’t gone down and we must be shown the same respect as other parts of the U.K. £4K to wales so far & £1.5k to NI drivers is the least we expect”
Billy McGregor, a cab driver from Scotland, said: “Some taxi drivers like myself are excluded from SEISS because of when I went self employed and due to working PAYE beforehand.
“I also missed out on NSEHF by 9 weeks.
“I completely agree, this support must be meaningful, 10 months with no support whatsoever has broken me.”
In recent months the devolved nations of Wales and Northern Ireland have put in place support packages targeting the taxi industry.
Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon opened up a £14million financial support scheme for taxi-drivers in Northern Ireland on 13 November. The bespoke scheme provided a one-off payment of £1,500 to eligible taxi drivers. There is now talks of a similar second grant being handed to drivers in the near future to assist with their costs.
In Wales there has also been support for the cab industry. Taxi drivers in Wales were recently ‘overjoyed’ as access to vital grants worth up to £4,000 arrived after a month of campaigning. According to sources from Unite Wales some taxi drivers have already received grants worth either £1,500 or £2,000 with a second payment due soon.