Scottish government support fund ‘doesn’t go far enough’, says trade union

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Private hire drivers’ unions have expressed disappointment at the Scottish government’s Private Hire and Taxi Support Fund, claiming drivers will be pushed into further debt.

The Scottish government has set aside £28 million, which will see individual drivers being awarded £750, as well as top-up grants for vehicle owners and taxi operators.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union led a sit-in protest against the government after Christmas, complaining that the private hire trade had been excluded from earlier Covid support measures.

ADCU reps were called to an emergency meeting with Scottish Government officials to discuss their concerns, which has resulted in the new funds being made available. But the ACDU is not happy with the amount, saying it is “disappointed” with the package. ACDU claims the money does not cover drivers’ losses, and only drivers who previously received a grant will be eligible.

Eddie Grice, Chair of ADCU Scotland, said: “We welcome the news that our trade will receive some support, but are disappointed that the level of support doesn’t go far enough. The figure of £28m sounds great for a headline, but it translates to just £750 for each driver and just £1,500 for an owner-driver. These figures don’t come close to mitigating the loss in costs that drivers have felt since mid-December. The Scottish Government has not gone far enough to support the trade here.”

ACDU had called for the Scottish Government to make a one-off grant of £3,000 per driver plus top-ups for operators and vehicle owners.

“£750 will help some drivers manage their debts a little bit, but it does very, very little in covering the losses they have experienced,” Grice added. “We are also disappointed to hear that most drivers won’t be paid these grants until February. Drivers need immediate and urgent cashflow support to be able to survive January and the fact that the money isn’t coming for another four to six weeks will only push drivers into further debt.”

He continued: “A further disappointment with the scheme is that drivers will only be eligible for this support if they received a grant from the previous rounds. This means any new entrants to the trade that have only been trading since last year won’t be eligible.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We are all too aware of the impact that Covid-19 has had – and continues to have – on business and the Scottish economy, including for taxi and private hire drivers.” The government said it had provided a total of £107m in funding for the taxi trade since the start of the pandemic.