Leeds taxi and private hire drivers to receive free licences and restart grants in multi-million pound council boost

Leeds grants

Leeds Council has announced a multi-million pound support package to help struggling taxi and private hire drivers and operators across the city.

The Council is making £2.5million available to fund free three-year taxi and private hire license renewals for drivers, while drivers and operators with a Leeds business address will also be able to apply for £500 grants following the reopening later this month of a coronavirus support scheme for businesses with low fixed property costs.

Schemes being put in place by the council mean more than £7.5m worth of support is on offer to taxi and private hire drivers and operators, whose business has been significantly hit by Covid-19.

Cllr James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The pandemic has had a major impact on people working in many different sectors across Leeds, with taxi and private hire drivers among those most seriously affected. These drivers are part of the lifeblood of our city and we are determined to do as much as we can to help protect their livelihoods.”

He continued: “In addition, many people, especially those with mobility needs or a disability, rely on taxis and private hire vehicles to get around. Supporting drivers means we are supporting those people as well.”

The free three-year license renewals will be worth £450 to most taxi and private hire drivers who need to renew their Leeds license between March 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. They must also meet the council’s current licensing standards.

Grants are also on offer to taxi and private hire vehicle owners who have switched to low-emissions vehicles. Owners who bought an eligible vehicle on or after February 28, 2020 can apply for a transitional grant worth £2,100.

The £1.9million funding for the transitional grants has been retained by the council after originally being secured as part of Leeds’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, even though it was decided last October that improvements in air quality and a rise in the number of cleaner vehicles meant the CAZ scheme would not go ahead.

Taxi and private hire vehicle owners who switched to low emission vehicles on or before February 28 last year will also be offered free three-year license renewals.