South coast taxi and private hire drivers could be handed a £500,000 financial lifeline by Brighton and Hove City Council, if party leaders approve the latest round of Covid grants.
Three taxi drivers in the city have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and many drivers have been forced to use food banks following a collapse in trade.
The council is due to meet to discuss further hardship finding and a council report ahead of the meeting said: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being felt by the city’s private licenced private hire and hackney carriage drivers. With pubs, bars, venue, indoor entertainment closed, and people advised to stay at home, drivers have experienced a significant loss in turnover while still having to cover key business costs.”
“As a public facing service, licensed taxi drivers are considered to be in a high risk group. A recent report by the Office for National Statistics showed that Covid-19 death rates among people in jobs such as taxi driving were up to three times higher than the national average.
“Licensed taxi drivers play an important role within the city and are making a significant contribution to the vaccination programme by, for example, transporting residents to their appointments. The proposal is for the negative impact on taxi drivers to be recognised with a specific grant award.”
The grant will be in relation to the fixed business costs that drivers incur for their taxi licence, insurance, vehicle maintenance and Covid-19 safety measures in this period.
The council report said: “The proposal is for a one-off payment, on application, of between £250 and £400 to private hire and hackney carriage drivers licensed in Brighton and Hove. There are approximately 1,300 licensed private hire taxis in the city. The estimated cost of this award is between £325,000 and £520,000.”
The grants are funded by the government which has set up a number of schemes, each with different rules and conditions.