Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Transport ministers were quizzed on when they would act to help the struggling taxi industry as new greener electric taxis are taken off the roads.
During a transport debate yesterday in the House of Commons, transport ministers would not be drawn in to disclosing what kind of impact assessment had been carried out to gauge the financial impact on the taxi and private hire industry.
The capital‘s licensed taxis have invested £200million into nearly 4,000 electric vehicles to clean up the capital’s poor air quality. In many other cities around the UK the shift to cleaner vehicles has also begun. However, with taxi drivers now struggling to meet finance payments these vehicles could soon start to be repossessed despite the push for more modern vehicles on the roads by government.
Daniel Zeichner, Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Labour MP for Cambridge, asked: “What assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.”
Robert Courts, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Department for Transport and
Conservative MP for Witney, replied saying: “The Government continue to engage with the sector to understand the effects of the covid-19 outbreak. Several support measures are available to support them through this challenging time, such as the self-employment income support scheme.”
Zeichner MP responded saying: “With over 350,000 licensed taxi and private hire drivers, this is the biggest employment group in the transport sector. As we speak, in London, electric cabs, which we all welcome, are being handed back because of inflexible finance deals. In every constituency, there will be hundreds of drivers laying up their vehicles. There are private tragedies going on here.
“What impact assessment have the Government actually done and when are they going to act?”
Courts MP answered the follow up question saying: “I acknowledge that this is an exceptionally challenging time for the industry, and the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to continue to raise that point.
“We continue to engage with the sector to understand how there may be some assistance.
“I particularly draw his attention to the fact that there is an online support finder tool that will assist those in the difficulty that he refers to.”
Taxi work levels have been hit hard due since early measures brought in by Government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) have since asked the Government to step in and urgently provide additional financial support to save taxi drivers from ruin. A LTDA spokesperson urged Government to “protect an important part of the transport system and to ensure that the many jobs and wider economic benefits the taxi trade provides are not lost”.
The taxi representative goes on to add: “Transport for London and the London Boroughs must also take steps to restore confidence in the future of the trade and ensure that drivers can continue to ply for hire effectively across London, now and in the future.
“Use funding provided by government to support businesses forced to close to also support taxi drivers, following the example of other local authorities and regions.”