Looking at the current financially distressed condition of taxi drivers in the UK, the Scottish labour has demanded more financial assistance during the pandemic situation.
Richard Leonard, the party leader said, “If additional support measures are not introduced there are concerns “many in the industry will be forced to cease trading”.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has urged to follow the footsteps of Northern Ireland, where taxi drivers received a £1500 grant as a part of a £19 million-support fund.
The plea comes after more and more cases of taxi drivers complaining about the financial distress they face.
Iverness Taxi Alliance Chairman Andrew Macdonald said, “Pandemic has “accelerated” the massive issue of “oversubscribed” taxi licences in the Highland capital threatening people’s livelihoods. Many drivers have abandoned their own licences for private firms to get a living. The situation is desperate and any help the governments can put forward will be a massive help – however, £1,500 will not go close to what is required for struggling drivers. There is no living for taxi drivers – people are abandoning licences in their droves and seeking other jobs like delivering parcels as they can’t make a living of taxi driving.”
The Scottish Labour leader in his plea mentioned, “As a result, many have fallen into debt and face the prospect of losing their livelihoods unless rules governing existing schemes are changed to accommodate them – or new tailored support packages are developed to help sustain this industry and these jobs.”
Chris Elder, a taxi driver from Dundee, backs the major call for the urgent financial aid. He said, “Cabbies have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic but have been forgotten about by the Scottish and UK Governments. Many of my colleagues placed themselves at real risk earlier this year so we could get desperately ill people to where they needed to be. We’d do the same again if it was needed but it’s not right that cabbies are excluded from support going to other businesses.”
Welcoming of the Fund Extension
The Scottish Government said, “We welcome the extension of the self-employed income support scheme so drivers can obtain 80% of previous earnings and the Economy Secretary has written to the Chancellor calling for this to be extended to the recently self-employed.”
The spokesperson further said, “We are currently considering further support for fixed costs pressures on self-employed taxi drivers and others, as well as providing the new strategic framework business fund.”
“Down and Depressed”
The pandemic has blown the market of taxi drivers in UK. Members belonging to low-paid and underappreciated occupation suffered a lot due to low or no income from the profession.
Taxi driver are living in a highly risk situation. They are between three and four time’s chance of dying from COVID-19.
Rusheewar Reddy, who has been driving in UK for six years, was forced to stop working two months after the spread of the virus. “You are just 1m away from your passengers in an enclosed space. It’s very difficult to protect yourself,” he says. “It’s very difficult, it’s very scary. The virus is spreading very quickly. You don’t know who you are picking up and what they have got.”
“I’ve taken loans from friends and I’m worried about paying them back. It’s very risky.”
Now with the additional financial aid from the government may give some ray of hope to distressed taxi drivers.