Vital financial support for operators in the taxi industry has been ‘FORGOTTEN’ claims one taxi operator feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Kerry Cummings and her husband Steve set up a popular taxi service in Norfolk nearly eight years ago in March 2013. The firm operating in Great Yarmouth has 11 drivers on their books and employs other staff in the community including PA’s and a receptionist.
The company called ‘Cummings and Goings Taxis’ have also invested heavily in their fleet of vehicles which includes cars, minibuses and wheelchair accessible vehicles. These cabs are rented out to drivers working for the seaside operator.
The taxi industry has been hit hard by travel and work restrictions implemented by the Government. Since the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, financial support for self-employed taxi drivers has arrived for many via the Government’s three Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants and varying levels of local authority support across England.
Kerry Cummings told TaxiPoint: “When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March some of the drivers handed the cars back as they self-isolated. This drastically affected our income.
“Our local authority gave us a one-off payment of £10,000. This did not even cover the rent for our unit.
“When the authorities said we could re-open I had to spend well over a £1,000 on putting screens in all vehicles, in the reception and just making sure everyone was safe.“
Cummings continued, suggesting that whilst taxi drivers have been catered for financially during the ongoing pandemic, operators with large overheads have been left to fend for themselves. Cummings said: “The drivers have been well looked after with 3 grants and other support. I feel that the operators have been forgotten as we are not self-employed. The Government offered company's loans but that would still have to be paid back.
“I still must pay the insurance and other bills to keep my business going. I don't hold much hope for 2021 getting any better.”
Despite the challenges the taxi firm continues to be open and operational to key workers in the community and those that need to be transported within their bubble.