UK taxi drivers have been facing huge financial turmoil due to business loss during the pandemic period. However, the new financial support package for them will give a big relief.
Nichola Mallon received the legal powers to come up with an extensive scheme, which will be tabled on Thursday, this week. If all the ministers agree to the package, then it will be a huge relief for both taxi industry and coach operators.
Once the paper is brought to the executive, Ms Mallon will put things forward with the finance minister. The infrastructure said the package of £14m would be directly given to taxi drivers. Therefore, each driver will receive £1500 as on-off cash payment.
However, not every taxi driver in UK is happy with package terming it as “go-away payment.”
“We’ve went through this process for the last seven months of talking to this department and trying to get somebody to take ownership of us and, finally on Tuesday, Nichola Mallon broke this big news to us that she’s putting a bespoke scheme in place,” taxi driver Pat Meghan said.
However, Ms Mallon do not agree with it “I’ve been very honest with people, as the minister for infrastructure I do not have the power to create schemes,” she said.
“I was given these powers at the weekend, I’ve delivered a scheme to the executive today and I’m clearly saying I want it up and running as quickly as possible”.
In her statement, she mentioned that she knew that drivers in UK are facing financial difficulties.
Coach and bus operators would be getting financial scheme worth £5m that will be completely based on the fleet of the bus.
Pat Meghan said there are some drivers in UK having car worth of £52,000 and are facing high monthly costs.
“£1,500 for the last seven months – we don’t know what we’re looking into in the future. Is it a payment to get us to go away?”
“Our night time economy has gone, there’s nothing out there, there’s no one in the city centre, no offices,” said Mr Meghan.
Nightmare during Pandemic
Every other taxi driver in UK is facing a major nightmare during the pandemic, making his or her life worse day by day.
Andrew Tomlinson, a driver for Value Cabs, who welcomes the financial support, said, “We’re still waiting on a figure, but after this amount of the time even if we get a small amount of money it will be better than nothing. There was a point where we didn’t think we were going to get anything.”
Many passenger booking the cab are maintaining social distance. There are no more group passengers, and finding a single passenger is quite difficult for drivers.
Jonathan McKeown of Eastside Taxis is somewhat relieved after the meeting. “We started campaigning towards the end of March when we realised how severe the first lockdown was going to be, after seven months I think we deserve what we heard today,” he said.
Ms Mallon plays a major role in the sector but insisted only Economy Minister Diane Dodds carry the power for releasing the financial assistance.