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UNITE VIEWPOINT BILLS BILLS BILLS BILLS BILLS


Well here we go again, as they say... As always, I hope that I find you well, all things considered. Thanks to those of you who have been in touch and for your kind words.


I say here we go again as some themes and problems seem to recur on a fairly regular basis; like the subject of Govern- ment support to the self- employed and the cab trade, which we will revisit this month.


Whilst I applaud the Government’s recent extension of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), it is once again totally out of step with and disproportionate to, the financial support that has been provided continuously to employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS).


The support for employees under the JRS has been provided for each and every month from the beginning, as opposed to the SEISS which has been subject to gaps in the support. The first gap was in September and October last year when no financial support at all was provided to the self- employed. The second gap in support was during February and March this year, when again no financial support at all was provided. During both of these periods the “employees” received continuous financial support. This amounts to four months less assistance than employees have been given, the obvious question is: WHY???


There is also the matter of the difference in the level of support. For example, employees have received their assistance based on their take-home pay as opposed to the self-employed only having received an average (taken over the past three years) of their net trading profits. No account was taken of, or given to, overheads or operating costs that continue to accrue.


Many cab drivers have taken out large loans to buy new clean air compliant vehicles in addition to their normal over- heads. It is clear that the local cab trade(s) up and down the nation struggle to feed and sustain themselves and their families during restrictions and the associated lack of trade.


Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have previously and publicly said: “...we will do whatever is needed to get everyone through this...” Words that seem to ring rather hollow now in light of the reality of the assistance and the clear glaring inequalities of financial support!


Have I misunderstood the Government’s definition and meaning of the word “everyone”? I also question if they understand the meaning of basic fairness?


Industry-wide warnings have been circulating for some time now, cautioning that once support ends, companies and employers will start sacking staff as the money dries up. This will clearly knock onto an enduring depression in public demand for leisure-based services, such as taxis. Our sector


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has crashed in real terms and this will most likely only get worse – I’m not being alarmist, merely being realistic and pragmatic.


Turning to sector grants; most other sectors have received sector-specific grants and in some cases businesses have been entitled to and have received more than one type of extra grant. Yet the cab trade received no sector specific assistance. Whilst there has been some access to the ‘Addi- tional Restrictions Grant’ (ARG), some local authorities have placed arbitrary restrictions, conditions and/or limits upon assistance grants for the cab trade compared with other businesses that are also entitled to this grant pot.


Some have even said that cabbies who have received the SEISS are not entitled to the ARG – my question here again is WHY??? We even have some councils trying to pass off a reduction in licence fees as financial assistance! Licence fee reductions arise from a surplus in their licensing account, this of course has nothing to do with Covid assistance!


Many self-employed people have struggled to meet their living costs. A large amount are renters and whilst home- owners have been offered mortgage holidays if they cannot make payments, renters have received no such support.


One thing is for sure, we need and we deserve help!


“We’re all in this together” has never been so true, but oddly some seem to be in another group, at least as far as the Government is concerned...


Cue the music: Gwen Guthrie – “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On but the Rent”...


Drive carefully and above all, stay well...


Article supplied by: Sean Ridley Secretary Unite the Union South East Region (Cab Section)


Sean.Ridley@unitetheunion.org APRIL 2021


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