A new grant will be launched this week for taxi and private hire drivers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Scotland’s local authorities will directly approach an estimated 38,000 drivers inviting them to claim the £1500 funding to help with their fixed costs.
Drivers must be licensed for the period October 9, 2020 to at least January 31 this year to be eligible.
However drivers who have claimed benefits such as Universal Credit or Job Seekers’ Allowance will not be eligible for the grant.
Unite Scotland say the grant “discriminates” against poorer taxi drivers who have had no choice but to seek benefits following earning losses due to the pandemic.
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “The trade has been afforded minimal support by the Scottish Government to date and what has been offered has been too little and too late.
“The new monies announced actually does nothing for those taxi drivers who have been hit the hardest and had to claim benefits such as Universal Credit because they will be ineligible.
“The poorest are being discriminated against which is disgraceful.
“The support for taxi drivers is also not as generous as in Northern Ireland or in Wales where the respective administrations have acted in a speedier fashion to address the major challenges facing the trade.”
The grant comes on top of support from other funding for loss of income available from the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund and the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
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 £57m, 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.”
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