The MP for Peterborough has called for funding to support the city’s taxi drivers.
According to the Peterborough Telegraph, Paul Bristow has written to city council chief executive Gillian Beasley calling on the authority to use funding from the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) to support taxi drivers who are “struggling to even make a fraction of their previous income”.
The Conservative MP wrote that during the Covid-19 pandemic “the private hire and taxi industry has been one of the sectors hit hardest,” in particular due to the devastation of the night-time economy.
He added that drivers are also at greater risk from the virus despite taking precautions but are not classed as key workers even though they help people make essential journeys, including to and from hospital.
Mr Bristow continued: “Peterborough City Council has recognised a problem by making a modest reduction to drivers’ annual licence fees. However, many local authorities have used their ARG funding to provide discretionary payments to local taxi drivers who are residents.
“These include Sheffield, Doncaster, Warrington, Northumberland, Wrexham, Dacorum (Hemel Hempstead), Basildon and Luton.
“Local grants have helped many businesses survive and the council’s hub has coordinated support for those who are shielding or vulnerable.
“I know you will share my desire to see a healthy private hire and taxi industry when this pandemic is over. I would be grateful for a virtual meeting with me and the Peterborough Private Hire Association to see how a discretionary scheme might be developed in Peterborough.”
Local councils can determine their own eligibility criteria to use with the ARG and which businesses to support. But government guidance states: “We expect the funding to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.”
Peterborough City Council’s website states that its “Additional Restrictions Grant policy is being reviewed in line with recent announcements” with a revised scheme being publicised this week.