Sturgeon urged to set out schedule to support taxi drivers

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said cab drivers are in 'dire need' of help.

Sturgeon urged to set out schedule to support taxi drivers STV News

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to set out when financial assistance which could help struggling taxi drivers will be made available.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said cab drivers are in “dire need” of help, as he called on the First Minister to clarify when they might receive support.

It comes after Ms Sturgeon announced a £30m “discretionary fund” is being made available to councils to deliver extra support for businesses, including taxi drivers.

Mr Leonard said taxi drivers had been contacting him “seeking urgent advice” about when the cash will be available.

Coronavirus restrictions mean many drivers have suffered major drops in income during the pandemic – but will still have to pay costs associated with their vehicle and insurance.

Mr Leonard said “many are facing very real hardship”, and his office has been “inundated with queries from taxi drivers”.

In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, he said: “Many are scouring the websites of their local authorities for further information, but this does not yet appear to be available.

“Can I therefore request that you provide information on when these funds will be allocated and disbursed to local authorities, and provide an indication as to when this group of workers may be able to access these funds.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said further details about the fund – which was promised when Ms Sturgeon announced 11 council areas were being placed in level four restrictions earlier this month – will be announced “shortly”.

The spokeswoman said: “We have listened to businesses and tailored our support throughout this unprecedented economic crisis. 

“Our total package for businesses is over £2.3bn and we have announced an additional £45m in funding will be made available to local authorities to support businesses impacted by coronavirus.

“We welcome the extension of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme so drivers can obtain 80% of previous earnings. We are currently considering further support for fixed costs pressures on self-employed taxi drivers and others.

“We are actively taking steps to fill in the gaps in UK-wide schemes. This includes £15m for newly self-employed people who are not able to access other forms of financial support.

“We are also establishing a £30m discretionary fund to enable local authorities to provide additional support for businesses where they consider that necessary.

“The Scottish Government is working closely with local authorities in developing these funds and further details will be announced shortly.”

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