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Scottish Government Covid cash boost for taxi drivers

By Alan Beresford

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A NEW fund to support taxi and private hire drivers affected by the pandemic will be launched this week.

Local authorities will directly approach an estimated 38,000 private hire and taxi drivers inviting them to claim a £1500 grant to assist with fixed costs, boosting the support from other funding for loss of income available through the Scottish and UK Governments.

A new total of £57 million has been allocated by the Scottish Government – three times more than the allocation announced in December.

Councils will start contacting eligible drivers this week to brief them on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. They do not need to apply, or contact the local authority.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “We know how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families.

They’ve truly gone the extra mile, continuing to provide a vital service for key workers and vulnerable individuals throughout the lockdown and beyond.

“Following the introduction of tighter regulations at Christmas I have trebled the budget originally announced for this fund to £57 million, enough to provide grants of £1500 to all of Scotland’s 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers.

“It will help to support the taxi trade by augmenting existing support and assisting drivers in meeting fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road.”

The news was welcomed by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

"The fund has also trebled from the £19 million originally announced, to £57 million, and I've no doubt this support will be welcomed by taxi drivers across Moray.

"Payments will be made based on the council's licensing data and no application form will need to be submitted."

Mr Lochhead went on to highlight the other sectoral support schemes which have been announced: Newly Self-Employed Hardship; Mobile Close Contact Services Fund; B&B and Guesthouse Support; Wedding Sector Support Fund; Local Authority Discretionary Fund; Ski Centre Support Fund; Travel Agents Fund; Coach Companies and Tour Operators Support; Visitor Attractions Fund.

He added: "If you're a local business, I'd encourage you to keep checking the following links for latest news on financial support: Find Business support portal https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice; Business Gateway Moray Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/businessgatewaymoray"

He was joined in welcoming the scheme by his Banffshire and Buchan Coast colleague Stewart Stevenson.

He said: “Despite the restrictions, many fixed costs have still remained for drivers, such as general maintenance, licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments and the increase in funding will cover these expensive costs.

“I would urge the local council to contact firms quickly to ensure they can receive the money in their account as soon as possible.”

To be eligible for financial assistance from the new fund taxi or private hire drivers must be licensed for the period October 9, 2020 to at least January 31, 2021. Applicants can choose whether the payment is made to a business or personal bank account.

More details and full eligibility criteria are available at https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-funds/

Other schemes open to taxi drivers include the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund and the UK government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The Scottish Government has allocated £3 billion in business support since the start of the pandemic on top of support available through the UK government.

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