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PHTM GRANT CAMPAIGN REAPS RESULTS


PHTM, the NPHTA and local trade associations across the country have been campaigning for financial support for our drivers from the beginning of this pandemic. ONE YEAR has passed - it has been a hard and frustrating journey but finally we see some light at the end of the tunnel.


As our industry is still governed by a licensing system that allows drivers to be licensed by one council and live and work in another licensing area, the allocation of grants was always going to be extremely difficult to administer.


However, from the initial indifference of so many councils to our trade’s plight, we are now pleased to report that of the 312 councils in England, 239 have now given self-employed drivers access to grants either via the ARG Scheme or via specific taxi driver grants.


BUT shockingly 72 councils are still offering NO FINANCIAL SUPPORT; and these councils, which are clearly highlighted on the following tables, should hang their heads in SHAME.


Furthermore, the tables clearly show that whilst some councils have been very supportive, which is commendable and much appreciated; the alarming disparity in grants offered across the country, even sometimes by neighbouring councils or even those in the same county, is questionable and totally unfair.


TAXI DRIVER SPECIFIC GRANTS: On a positive note, most drivers were made aware of these grants, but they are generally paltry payments not giving any real help towards drivers’ ongoing fixed business costs or alternatively have no monetary value and are just contras against future licensing fees.


Frustratingly, many taxi driver specific grants also exclude drivers who live outside of the council area, so despite paying their licence fee to that council these drivers are inexplicably deemed ineligible to then claim the grant; whilst some grants pay hackneys but not private hires and others pay drivers but not vehicle owners and vice versa.


Furthermore, the issuing of these specific driver grants has meant that taxi drivers, unlike other self-employed busi- nesses, have then in the majority of cases been precluded from accessing grants via their council’s main ARG scheme which offers much more money on a regular basis – a clever cost saving move by those councils.


ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS GRANT (ARG): ALL councils in England were allocated pro rata budgets to support businesses in their area whose income has been impacted by Covid-19. There have been tier restrictions and three national lockdowns in the last 12 months. Therefore, has our trade not been affected just like other businesses? Do our drivers still not have fixed monthly costs? Can they work remotely? Can they work online?


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The majority of councils have not widely publicised the ARG scheme so that many drivers were not even aware they were eligible to claim and if and when they did find out, all the money had been allocated or the application window closed.


Thankfully though some councils have made the ARG applica- tion process simple whilst others have made it so complicated and request so much documentation that drivers have been deterred from even trying to apply; in some cases when drivers appear to be eligible, they are rejected and told to go and claim a grant from where they are licensed or vice versa; or even worse are refused support as they have received SEISS. PHTM reminds all those councils that the ARG scheme is aimed at helping businesses with ongoing fixed costs, SEISS is calculated on income after fixed costs have been paid. Therefore, eligibility for ARG has NOTHING TO DO with claiming SEISS and this SHOULD NOT be part of the criteria.


In reality ALL self-employed drivers are entitled to this grant and should have been able to claim it, if not from the council where they’re licensed and pay their fees then certainly from the council where they live:


Wychavon Council told PHTM to share the message below:


“Please always check with your local council first, not where you are licensed. We have paid lots of grants to Wychavon taxi drivers, including those who are licensed in other areas. We cannot believe that a taxi driver who lives in our area but is licensed in Birmingham did not contact us until after we had closed the process.


“It is unbelievable to us that any business owner would not contact the local council in which they are based; as regardless of where a taxi driver is licensed, their business base from an HMRC perspective, is their home address.”


Chris Brooks, Head of Economic Development Wychavon DC


THE FORGOTTEN AND NEGLECTED DRIVERS: PHTM has sadly been inundated with emails, phone calls and Facebook messages from thousands of desperate drivers nationwide. These drivers are angry at only receiving minimal financial support or worse still have slipped through the net, resulting in them receiving no driver grants and no ARG grant, in fact no financial help at all from either the council where they are licensed or the council where they live – THIS IS A DISGRACE! Central government is now also demanding answers from councils as to why grant money has not been distributed to those businesses that so desperately need it.


THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING TABLES SAYS IT ALL and clearly explains why licensed drivers in some parts of the country are handing their vehicle plates and badges back in droves. Please note that grant amounts listed are correct at time of publication.


Whether this inequitable allocation of grant money is ILLEGAL is yet to be confirmed but we are sure you will agree that it is most certainly UNJUST!


APRIL 2021


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