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TAXI & PHV DRIVER GRANTS: THE GLOVES ARE OFF - THE FIGHT BEGINS


Our industry is an intrinsic part of the UK transport infrastructure. Thousands of operators and hundreds of thousands of drivers work 24/7, 365 days a year to keep the UK moving.


Throughout this pandemic many of our drivers have continued to work to support their local communities: to transport NHS staff and key workers; to deliver food and prescriptions to the old and the vulnerable and now more recently to take the elderly for their Covid vaccinations, often doing this at heavily discounted rates or even for free.


When the government announced the first lockdown last March, the majority of us thought life would be back to normal in a matter of weeks - but ten months later that couldn’t be further from the truth.


PHTM and the NPHTA have been campaigning for financial support for our trade from the beginning. Our drivers were told to “claim universal credits”, which was of little help or “get a Bounce-back Loan”, which whilst achievable for some, was certainly not an option for all.


With little financial support many drivers have had no option but to continue to work, despite the obvious risks. However, the busy trading periods - Easter, Summer and Christmas that normally boost their income have been and gone; and as lockdown number three turns towns and cities across the UK into ghost towns, these are now desperate times for all our drivers who are now genuinely struggling to survive.


QUESTION


Devolved Governments, as clearly show in the table below, have heard our trade’s plight and issued specific, easy to claim grants to all their licensed drivers.


PHTM and the NPHTA give a special thank you to the Welsh Government for setting the standards that others need to follow.


COUNTRY WALES SCOTLAND N. IRELAND 50 GRANTS £2,000 + £2,000 + £2,000 £1,500 £1,500 + £1,500


DRIVER Nos.


HACKNEY V’CLES


11,952 4,618 P H V’CLES 4,908 38,000 15,953 22,091 9,050 9,000 Combined


So, we ask, why were drivers in England not given this same blanket grant by Westminster?


Instead, ALL councils in England were allocated pro rata budgets to support businesses in their area whose income has been affected by Covid-19.


Specifically, the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) provides local councils with grant funding to support closed businesses that do not directly pay business rates as well as businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted. In addition, larger grants can be given than those made through LRSG (Closed).


Local councils can determine which businesses to target and determine the amount of funding from the ARG.


Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these grants which the government expects to be used to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are still severely impacted by the restrictions.


However, 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, this was always going to be extremely difficult to administer.


Even so, as you will see in the following table of grants, there are some councils and licensing officers in England that have been excellent and we sincerely thank them for their support.


They have offered either specific easy and accessible driver grants, or have checked drivers’ eligibility to claim via the ARG scheme thus making the application process clear and simple.


Most importantly they ensured that all their licence holders have been made aware that funds were available.


We also want to highlight that we are aware that many licensing departments have tried to keep our drivers safe by supplying PPE, as well as funding towards safety screens and offering safety training. Many have tried to ease the financial burden by waiving or splitting payments for licences fees, extending licences, waiving MOT’s and compliance checks, being flexible regarding medicals and also voluntary suspend- ing licences if requested. Some have also even gone as far as to extend vehicles beyond their age limit as a result of Covid.


Whilst we thank you for your efforts, and for recognising that there is problem; this is not a grant – a grant to which all


FEBRUARY 2021


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