Nicola Sturgeon has been encouraged to set out when financial assistance will be made available that could benefit struggling cab drivers.
Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, said that cab drivers needed help “urgently” and called on the First Minister to explain when they could get assistance.
This came after Ms. Sturgeon revealed that councils would be made eligible to offer additional funding to firms, including cab drivers, with a £ 30 million “discretionary fund”
Mr. Leonard said he was called by cab drivers asking for “urgent advice” as to when the money will be available.
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The limitations imposed by the coronavirus indicate that during the pandemic, many drivers have lost considerable income – and still have to pay for their car and insurance.
“many are facing a very real hardship”many are facing a very real hardship”inundated with requests from cab drivers.”flooded with cab driver requests.
He said in a letter to Ms. Sturgeon, “Many are scouring for more information on their local authority websites, but it does not yet appear to be available.”
Therefore, I will ask you to provide information as to when these funds will be distributed and charged to local authorities and an explanation as to when this group of staff would be able to access these funds.
A Scottish government spokeswoman said further information about the fund would be revealed “shortly,” which was pledged when Ms. Sturgeon announced earlier this month that 11 boroughs will be put in Stage 4 constraints.
The spokeswoman said, “During this unprecedented economic crisis, we have listened to businesses and adjusted our support.” Our overall business package is more than £2.3 billion and we have announced that an additional £45 million will be made available to local authorities to fund coronavirus-affected companies.
“We welcome the expansion of the self-employed income support scheme so that motorists can obtain 80% of their previous earnings. We are currently exploring more support for the fixed costs that weigh on cab drivers and others who are self-employed.
In UK-wide initiatives, we are actively taking steps to close the gaps. For new self-employed drivers who do not have access to other sources of financial assistance, this entails £ 15 million.
We are also setting up a £30 million fund to encourage local councils to provide companies with extra funding if they feel that it is required.
“The Scottish Government is working closely with local authorities to develop these funds and further details will be announced shortly.”
Elsewhere in the U.K., earlier this week, Cardiff cab drivers staged a rally in the Welsh city center.
After the profits of cab drivers fell during the Covid 19 crisis, they also called on the devolved government to provide a financial support package for the cab industry.
“Taxi drivers are different from the wider self-employed in that there is no real reprieve, even if local and national closures are lifted,” said Alan McCarthy, regional officer for Unite Wales.
Trade is so heavily dependent on other sectors, particularly hospitality, that any continued reduction in these sectors would have a devastating effect on the earning potential of cab drivers.
If people don’t go out and enjoy themselves on weekends, they won’t use cabs. They don’t use cabs if people mostly work from home and don’t drive to the workplace. Instead of using cabs, when parents work from home and do not commute, they take their children to school themselves.
Although the end of closures and the loosening of controls may be seen by other sectors as an opportunity to regroup, that has not been the case for the cab industry.
The decline has been consistent since March for those who work in the trade. To ensure that these people are not overlooked, the government needs to do more to understand the unique effect on the cab industry.