A support fund of £57 million has been confirmed, enough to provide grants of £1,500 to all Scotland’s 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers that meet the eligibility criteria.
Click to check if you are eligible https://bit.ly/3bN00Qs
You will not be eligible if you have been in receipt of state benefits payments: Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers’ Allowance, Income Support) or have applied for but not yet started receiving Universal Credit at the time of applying.
If you are eligible for a grant - your local authority will get in touch with you, starting 18 January 2021. You do not need to contact them.
However, The Scotsman reports that Scottish drivers and union leaders have claimed that the one-off payment is short-changing the trade, warning many face mounting debts to keep their vehicles on the road while takings are down by up to 80 per cent.
It comes after a number of politicians blasted the Scottish government for failing to help struggling taxi drivers. Last week Ruth Davidson accused the government of being “great at making announcements” but failing to get vital financial support into hands of businesses.
Andy Taylor, a driver from Edinburgh, said: “It’s good that they increased the funding but its one payment. It just feels like a kick in the teeth. Most drivers left on the road now will be owner operators like me so have huge overheads just to keep a vehicle on the road.
"I have had to borrow a big sum, after I got a letter from a debt collection company. I feel like the world is closing in. It costs me about £1,400 a month to keep my vehicle on road, but I make about £200 a week just now, if I’m lucky. The debts keep mounting up. I feel helpless, desperate and is if I am letting my family down. But we are trying our hardest with very little help available.”
A recent survey from Unite revealed around 30 per cent of drivers have not got any financial help from government support schemes.
The survey laid bare the struggle of drivers regularly working 16-17-hour days with a shift being determined as having been ‘good’ if £50 is cleared.
Jacqueline Dunn, branch secretary for Unite, said: “We welcome the funding has increased overall but it’s nowhere near enough. It won’t make a significant difference.
"Many are in debt, accumulated since March when the first lockdown hit. I know some are already bankrupt. I had to stop driving taxis after Christmas and get another job.
"The trade is on it’s knees. Most are bringing in about 20 per cent of usual income, while they still have 100 per cent of costs. A one off £1,500 payment is nowhere near enough. It won’t even make a dent.”
Unite has launched a petition https://bit.ly/2LJipD0 calling for drivers to be eligible to access the Scottish government’s Strategic Framework Business Fund, which would see owners getting payments every four weeks for as long as restrictions are in place.