UNION reps have said drivers will be pushed "into further debt" as the Scottish Government released details of its Private Hire and Taxi Support Fund. 

Last week, £28million was set aside for the trade which will see individual drivers being awarded £750, as well as a series of top-up grants being given to vehicle owners and taxi operators. 

The support package was announced following a 'sit in' on George Square on Wednesday, December 29 which was led by the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), with drivers gathering in large numbers. 

Within hours of the protest, ADCU reps were called to an emergency meeting with Scottish Government officials to discuss their concerns, in particular surrounding the trade's exclusion from Covid business support during the current restrictions. 

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Follow up meetings were held the next day and last week following the First Minister's announcement.

However, the union have said they are "disappointed" with the package as they say it doesn't go far enough to cover drivers' losses and only drivers who received a grant previously 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 headline figure of £28m sounds great for a headline, but it translates to just £750 for each driver and just £1500 for an owner-driver.

"These figures don’t come close to mitigating the loss in costs that drivers have felt since mid-December.  

"We made a strong case to the Scottish Government and requested a one-off grant of £3000 per driver plus top-ups for operators and vehicle owners, but The Scottish Government has come in with figures much, much lower than that. 

"£750 will help some drivers manage their debts a little bit, but it does very, very little in covering the losses they have experienced.  

"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.  

"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.

"These drivers are struggling just as much as the rest of us, probably more so if you consider that they probably have not clawed back their startup costs yet."

He added: "Overall, the Scottish Government has not gone far enough to support the trade here. 

"If restrictions are to continue further than mid-January, it is imperative, vital, for the Scottish Government to look at these figures again and commit to delivering a level of support that is both meaningful and significant."

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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 emergence of the new Omicron variant and the speed at which it is spreading brings even more economic uncertainty.

"We have announced a £375m support package for businesses and have now provided details on how £262m of this funding will be allocated.

"This includes up to £28m for taxi and private hire drivers and operators – bringing our total support for the sector since the start of the pandemic to more than £107m.

"Further details on eligibility for this funding will be published shortly and we are working with local authorities to ensure funding reaches eligible taxi drivers as soon as possible."