Alliance representatives have called on the Economy and Infrastructure Ministers to urgently agree a support package for taxi drivers and operators in need of assistance during the pandemic.
Andrew Muir MLA and Stewart Dickson MLA were speaking after meetings of the Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committees today (Wednesday) where the issue was discussed. A support package of £1,500 per driver to cover operating costs was recently announced but some have complained about stringent application requirements.
“Taxi Drivers and operators have played a valuable role during the pandemic and will be key to aiding our recovery as we eventually emerge from it,” said Infrastructure spokesperson Mr Muir.
“Rebuilding, for example, our night-time economy without sufficient drivers will be seriously inhibited and would risk an upsurge in drink-driving, with the dreadful consequences flowing from that. The lack of support to date is extremely concerning, resulting in approximately 30 per cent of drivers leaving the industry already. More must be done, now for both drivers and operators who have been left high and dry.
“I would again urge the Infrastructure Minister to re-examine the application criteria for the one-off cash sum of £1,500 and consider altering the stipulation a valid insurance policy should have been held from March 22 to September 30, to a requirement for policy to have only been in place on March 22 when the pandemic started. More funds must also be bid for to top-up the £1,500 payments.”
“As this pandemic has unfolded, the term ‘Excluded’ has unfortunately become far too well known, reflecting many people and sectors left without support as the economic catastrophe of COVID-19 batters so many homes and businesses,” added Economy spokesperson Mr Dickson.
“Failure to provide adequate support for taxi drivers and operators is a matter of real concern, especially after so many other bespoke schemes already launched. Whether it’s opening up eligibility to COVID restrictions business support schemes for drivers or launching new schemes, much more needs to be done.
“The Economy and Infrastructure Ministers must urgently get together and sort this, as so many face into a bleak Christmas dominated by financial ruin.”