A DELAY in awarding further grant funding to taxi and private hire car drivers is causing concern amongst union leaders and Glasgow City councillors.

Less than 50% of Glasgow’s driving workforce claimed the £1500 they were initially entitled to from the local authority forcing Council Leader Susan Aitken to return the left-over money to the Scottish Government.

Councillor Aitken had been in discussion with Holyrood to try and award the money to those entitled but had not put in a claim, but was unsuccessful.

A further round of £1500 for drivers and £10,000 for operators is now available but trade union Unite say this “falls short” of the measures needed to stabilise the trade.

At a recent council meeting councillor Thomas Kerr asked about delays in the funding becoming available.

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He said: “We have been in discussion about the private hire and taxi funding. We are still waiting to hear about it coming through.

“There seems to be an issue with the Scottish Government not being able to give us the green light to go ahead with that funding. Has there been any updates on the pressure the administration is putting on the Scottish Government to ensure we can get this funding out to taxi drivers as soon as possible?”

Labour councillor Malcolm Cunning also raised concern that grants would only be available to those who were successful in the first round of payments.

He said: “A very significant amount of that money had to be returned as drivers either didn’t apply or didn’t succeed in their application and 50% of the trade got the initial £1500.

“How are we going to deal with that problem? For the night-time economy taxis are essential.”

Members were informed that discussions were ongoing with the Scottish Government and that an update would be circulated to committee after the meeting.
Unite has also raised concerns that the majority of operators are receiving significantly less than £10,000 and are calling on the government to deliver the full amount irrespective of size.

The union has also drawn attention to the ‘postcode lottery’ effecting support for the taxi trade as local authorities have offered different support through discretionary funding. Glasgow as the nation’s largest city has offered no ‘top-up’ discretionary support.

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Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish Secretary, said: “Support is desperately needed and welcome but this is a sector that has been failed once again. We have regularly brought this to the attention of Ministers and indeed the First Minister regarding the lack of support. The pleas of many within the trade have been ignored.”

“This announcement falls way short for the vast majority of operators who manage less than ten cabs, and who continue to face high fixed costs at a time when the trade remains in crisis. The Scottish Government have rowed back on their manifesto commitments and Unite will continue to fight for a substantial and long-term financial solution to the crisis our members face in the taxi trade.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Economy Secretary met with Unite the Union this week to discuss additional funding for taxi drivers and operators. With this additional £62 million of funding, the total support for the sector during the pandemic is now more than £90 million.

“We worked closely with sector stakeholders to develop the support for taxi drivers and operators. For taxi drivers, local authorities will automatically provide a second payment to those who received the first grant, meaning eligible drivers will have received a total of £3,000.

“Some taxi operators will get the full £10,000 grant and those with more than 50 vehicles will get £15,000. Local authorities will contact all eligible vehicle licence holders this month to brief them on their potential entitlement.”