The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is currently open for applications for its third grant. People looking to claim the third grant, which covers the three-month period of November 2020 to January 2021, must make their applications on or before January 29, 2021. The months of February to April 2021 will be covered by a fourth grant under the SEISS scheme.
The Express reports that the third SEISS grant is worth 80 per cent of average monthly trading profits, capped at £7,500 in total.
The amount of the scheme’s third grant was increased to reflect the second national lockdown in England over November, and the continued difficulties businesses are facing due to the pandemic.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at the time: “Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.”
Claimants of the scheme’s third grant must have been affected by coronavirus on or after November 1, 2020 to get the payment.
A number of self-employed people are excluded from the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. SEISS is open to self-employed individuals or members of partnerships, but not to people who trade through a limited company or trust.
To get the grant, the claimant needs to earn at least half of their income from self-employment, and average trading profit must be less than £50,000 per year. Claimants must have traded in the 2018 to 2019 tax year and the 2019 to 2020 tax year to be eligible for the grant. Self Assessment tax returns for the 2018 to 2019 tax year must have been submitted on or before April 23, 2020.
The Government criteria states individuals must “be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus”. Alternatively, individuals may also “have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus”.
Claimants must declare they intend to continue trading, and that they reasonably believe they will see a significant reduction in trading profits, to be eligible for the third SEISS grant.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is currently only accepting applications for the third grant. The fourth SEISS grant will cover three months from February to April 2021, but HMRC has not set out when applications will open.
The Government website states HMRC “will set out further details” in due course.
HMRC has not yet stated how much the fourth SEISS grant will be worth, but this is expected to be updated in the near future.
Dundee taxi drivers have been forced to draw up a blacklist of violent and abusive fare dodgers amid claims the police will not take them seriously.
According to The Courier, a closed social media group has been set up listing names, descriptions, addresses and even pictures of individuals who have refused to pay for trips. In most of the incidents, passengers simply leave the vehicle but in the worst cases, can become aggressive.
A recent incident saw a taxi vandalised by a passenger on the morning of 3 January. Another driver was assaulted by a passenger on Boxing Day.
Local industry workers say when incidents occur, police take days to visit them to take a statement. It means many drivers now no longer report the more minor incidents.
Ryan Todd, a taxi fleet operator, said fare dodging is happening on a “daily basis”. He said: “In an ideal world, the police would turn up and treat incidents as being important but that’s not the case.
“Word can spread that passengers don’t get in trouble for refusing to pay and being abusive.”
One of Mr Todd’s drivers was recently abused by two young female passengers, one of whom threw a vodka bottle at the car, smashing the back windscreen. He said it was three days before the police took a statement. “On that occasion, the police did trace one of the girls and she agreed to pay £270 to fix the window but I would have expected officers to come and see the driver that night.”
Taxi driver Jim Harris said he founded the group after hearing of an anecdotal increase in runners. Mr Harris, 44, said: “I thought it would really good to have a list like this. It’s unofficial but it is helping. The boys can sometimes go up to doors blind and it’s not until they recognise them they realise it’s someone who has done a runner before.
“There’s not much work just now and that one job matters. They might have been waiting for an hour for a job just for someone to refuse to pay. Imagine someone stealing an hour’s wage from you and nobody doing anything about it. It feels like it has got worse during the pandemic.”
Chief Inspector Ross Fitzgerald, of Police Scotland, said taxi fraud is treated as a criminal matter. He said: “Taxi fraud is a crime taken seriously by Police Scotland. I would ask anyone who has experienced instances of this nature to come
forward and report it to us. We would also encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of a crime to contact officers via 101, or phone 999 in an emergency.”
He added: “Furthermore, we would encourage anyone who is unsatisfied with the service they’ve received to make a formal complaint. This can be done in person at a station, via an online form or by calling 101.”
It is understood officers are contacting Mr Todd directly to discuss his concerns.
A private hire driver who was caught with almost £300,000 of high purity cocaine hidden in his car has been jailed for three years.
GlasgowLive reports that Gordon Mitchell , 36, was caught near to Gorbals leisure centre after police spotted him doing a number of three-point turns in his Volkswagen Passat and stopped him.
On Monday 11 January, the High Court in Glasgow heard that he was couriering the drug in order to pay off part of a gambling debt.
Prosecutor Lindsey Dalziel said the car was searched on December 2 last year and initially only two mobile phones were found - one which appeared encrypted.
Miss Dalziel added: "A trained dog handler was contacted. The dog then gave a strong indication at the centre console of the car."
The compartment was yanked open and a plastic bag was found stashed inside. It contained a taped package of 996g of cocaine with a purity of 73 per cent.
Officers went onto search Mitchell's home in the city's Shettleston and found £1,020 in cash as well as three more mobile phones.
The court was told the cocaine had a potential value of £290,906.
It emerged Mitchell - who pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine - already had 11 previous convictions including for theft, assault and carrying weapons.
Defence counsel Allan McLeod said: “He ran up gambling debts and was offered an opportunity to clear a substantial part of the debt. He knew the package contained drugs but not how much or what drug.
“He realises he made a catastrophic mistake.”
Judge Lord Weir told Mitchell: “I accept you had significant gambling debts. Your gambling addiction brought you here today.”
Taxi and PHV drivers in East Staffordshire fighting to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic have been given a lifeline over how long they can keep older cars.
According to StaffordshireLive, they have been granted a four-month extension to how long they can keep ageing vehicles before having to replace them as cabbies battle to stay afloat with trade dipping massively during the pandemic.
Burton cabbies had pleaded with East Staffordshire Borough Council to grant them the extension due to the major downturn in trade, which has left many forced to look for other work or having to work exceptionally long hours on very low income, they say.
The council's licencing committee considered their concerns, which were raised in a letter and signed by 19 taxi firms across East Staffordshire, now known as the Burton Taxi Trade after forming an alliance.
The committee decided to grant a four-month extension. This is on top of the previous four-month extension they were granted last year which has come to an end.
Previously private hire vehicles must be replaced when they reach seven years old and hackney carriage vehicles at ten years old.
"Trade is really suffering at the minute due to the pandemic. We have been having help from the council so we are grateful. We just hope and pray things will get better."
From December 2020 to December 2021, a total of 90 PHVs and 26 hackney carriage vehicles would have needed to be replaced under the old licence agreements issued by the borough council, but now these drivers have a reprieve with older cars.
But drivers have told how many have seen their workload plummet to ten per cent when compared to January last year, before the pandemic hit.
Taxis and private hire vehicles in Craven will have to be fitted with CCTV cameras by April for the protection of both drivers and passengers.
Craven District Council had been due to make cameras mandatory in September, last year - but deferred it because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Craven Herald & Pioneer reports that the council originally adopted its new taxi policy in June, 2018, and proposed giving owners until April, last year, to get cameras fitted. But, it was deferred at the time following concerns from the taxi trade about the cost - between £450 and £600 - of having the cameras installed.
At its online meeting, the council’s Licensing Committee did consider putting it off again, at least until June, once again over uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, but decided it had been going on long enough.
Newly licensed taxis will now be expected to have cameras from this month, while all others will be expected to have cameras fitted by April.
Members did however stress that any taxi driver struggling to comply would be able to go to the council to explain and would be unlikely to be subject to enforcement action.
The meeting was told there were currently 130 hackney carriages operating in Craven and 15 private hire vehicles.
Officer, Tim Chadwick, said when the April date had been put forward, the economy was beginning to recover and trade for taxis was picking up, but since then, Craven had been put into Tier 2 and there was now another national lockdown.
“These tier restrictions have impacted heavily on the leisure and hospitality industry including the night economy,” he said.
Cost of buying and fitting the cameras had always been an important factor and was why implementation had been put back.
“The importance of this issue is due to the fact that the cost of installation of camera units, is to be paid for by the vehicle proprietor, although members will be aware that this cost needs to be balanced with the key benefit of promoting public and driver safety - a key factor in the implementation of taxi cameras.”
But councillors said cameras had been discussed for three years, and they did not want to see their installation again ‘kicked down the road’. It was also pointed out cameras could assist drivers if they were put in the situation where someone got into their vehicle without wearing a face mask and refused to put one on.
Councillor David Ireton said he was keen to see cameras installed. They were an important tool in licensing appeals and their installation had been put off long enough, he said. He also asked whether there were ways taxi owners could be helped to pay for the cost.
Cllr Andy Solloway said the country would eventually come out of the coronavirus pandemic, and when it did he predicted there would be a big bounce back.
“I can well imagine that when the virus recedes, I don’t think it will entirely go away, people will hit the night time economy with a vengeance. It may be for a short time, it may be for a long time, but the economy will bounce back and there will be a lot of spending power.,” he said.
He also believed cameras could be helpful to make sure passengers complied with the wearing of face coverings.
“If you get into a taxi you are required to wear a mask, and if a driver has someone who refuses to wear a mask, surely the driver can refuse the fare and CCTV will support that.”
Cllr Chris Moorby also thought the economy would be recovering by April. “The majority of people will be vaccinated by then, and restrictions could be lifted before then,” he said.
But, he also asked whether taxi drivers could be helped with the cost with some sort of grant, to be paid back at a weekly rate.
Committee chairman, Cllr Simon Myers, said the cameras were needed to protect both passengers and drivers, many of who were subject to abuse, which could also be racially aggravated.
He added drivers would be eligible for ‘Government bounce back’ loans with zero per cent interest for 12 months.
“We have this policy for a very good reason, for the protection of public and taxi drivers. We know that drivers are at risk of abuse and racist abuse, and and we want to protect our taxi drivers from that,” he said