The Scottish Government unveiled particulars of the Private Hire and Taxi Support Fund but union officials are worried it might push drivers into a debt trap.
A week ago, more than £28 million was allocated for this cause to ensure that every driver receives £750, and some additional grants were awarded to car owners and cab drivers.
On the 29th of December, the App Drivers Couriers Union (ADCU) staged a demonstration at George Square where many motorists gathered to announce a support package.
A few hours after the demonstration, ADCU representatives were summoned to an emergency meeting with Scottish Government officials to address their issues. One of the concerns addressed was the exclusion of the trade from Covid business funding, especially during the ongoing restrictions. The First Minister made a declaration for which follow-up meetings were conducted on the following day and later that week.
But the union is still expressing discontentment with the package because it does not cover the losses that motorists have incurred so far.
In a statement, ADCU Scotland Chair Eddie Grice expressed their gratitude for the trade getting some help, while also highlighting their concern that the level of support was insubstantial.
Grice further noted that although £28 million sounded impressive, the actual dollar value per driver and car owner is much lower, at just £750 and £1,500, respectively.
There is no way that these figures can make up for the loss in costs that drivers have experienced since mid-December.
For this reason, the union requested a one-time grant of £3,000 on top of additional perks for operators and vehicle owners. Unfortunately, as Eddie Grice reports, the Scottish Government rejected this request and came up with a lower figure.
The £750 will undoubtedly help some operators pay off some of their debts, but it will not fully compensate them for the losses they have suffered.
The government has done nothing much to ensure the smooth running of trade. Hearing that drivers won’t be receiving the grants until February was devastating, said Grice.
That means drivers will be further burdened by mounting debt if they are unable to get emergency cash flow before the end of the month.
Even more disappointing is the fact that those who got a grant in the last round will not be eligible for the subsequent ones.
That is to say, anyone who has joined the industry recently will be ineligible. Considering that many of these drivers haven’t yet recouped their initial investment, they’re suffering just like everyone else.