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COVID NEWS


TAXI DRIVER GRANTS DON’T GO FAR ENOUGH SAYS KEIGHLEY COUNCILLOR


Bradford Council has announced it will after all provide support grants to taxi drivers to help them survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Keighley News reports that it has decided to join more than 100 other local authorities across the country in awarding one-off payments to licensed drivers. But Keighley town councillor Mohammed Nazam, who was among those pressing for action by Bradford Council, says the £600 grants on offer don’t go far enough.“Taxi drivers have really struggled over the past year and the trade will take a long time to fully recover from the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “I don’t think the £600 is sufficient, especially when the council is proposing a clean air zone within Bradford city centre. This will affect all taxi drivers, particularly when having to buy new vehicles. “The majority of grants paid by other authorities have been


over £1,000 on average. “I urge the council to look again at this decision with a view to increasing the amount of grant.” However, council leader Cllr Susan Hinch- cliffe said the grants would provide a “much-needed boost” to drivers and the taxi trade.


She added: “Our taxi drivers play a vital role in our district’s transport system. They have provided an invaluable service for our


residents and businesses throughout the pandemic. The impacts of Covid will be with us for some time yet, so it is essential that we continue to support them through these difficult times to keep the district moving.” The council says all licensed taxi drivers will be asked to complete a simple form to confirm eligibility for a grant. Applications were invited until March 29 and grants will then be paid from the week beginning April 5.


SCOTTISH MSP WRITES TO PARLIAMENT TO ASK FOR MORE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR CABBIES


Monica Lennon, MSP for Central Scot- land Region, has written a letter, on 23 March, to Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secre- tary for Finance, on behalf of Unite the Union in Scotland to urge the Scottish Government to offer the financial sup- port that the trade desperately needs in order to survive. In the letter Lennon writes that Scot- land’s taxi industry has “experienced significant financial hardship during the pandemic” with a dramatic fall in passenger numbers and thus revenue. She states: “The Scottish Government delivery of the £1,500 grant this year was welcome, albeit belated.” Lennon continues: “I recently held discussions with repre- sentatives of Unite the Union Cab Branches who described how the past 12 months has impacted them. They told me that taxi operators across Scotland had been purchasing vehicles with a view to improving environment performance, yet many operators are struggling to make the required finance agreement payments for their vehicles and are facing the threat of repossession. “I listened to drivers describe mental health concerns and of drivers going to bed with their radio on to remain alert of any


APRIL 2021


work, no matter what time of day. “I heard of many leaving the industry for good and some seeking alternative employment just to meet the payments on their vehicles. “I listened to operators plea to be recognised as business own- ers, given parity with business grants and for the Government to distinguish between a taxi driver and a taxi operator. Lennon explained that due to the Unite campaign in Wales, drivers have received three sums of £2,000 with more to come. And in Northern Ireland, a second scheme closed on 26 February and a second grant of £1,500 has now been released. Lennon finishes off by asking Forbes to “urgently set out”: • What specific financial support can be provided to taxi operatives such as the Strategic Business Framework Fund that gives grants to businesses by delivering a £10,000 grant.


• When will a second financial assistance scheme for drivers be announced.


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