Unite Scotland has welcomed the decision by the Scottish government to address the major issues surrounding the £1,500 taxi drivers grant. Taxi and private hire drivers who have received state benefits at any time since March last year will now be eligible for a £1,500 business support grant as long as they meet the remaining criteria. 

Councils will start contacting eligible drivers this week to brief them on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. However, the trade union has urged the Scottish government to ensure that any taxi driver in receipt of state benefits would not be penalised for receiving the grant through the use of top-up welfare powers, while assurances are sought with the Department for Work and Pensions

In Scotland, it is estimated that there are over 37,000 taxi driver and private hire licenses in Scotland with many of the drivers having minimal or no access to government support schemes. An online survey of over 200 taxi drivers released in December 2020 by Unite Scotland highlighted that many drivers are regularly working 16-17-hour days with a shift being determined as having been ‘good’ if £50 is cleared. The survey also showed that 30% of drivers have been unable to access any financial help from government support schemes.  For those that have been able to access financial help from government the biggest group (37%) reported that it represents less than 25% of their average earnings. 

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said: “It’s welcomed that the Scottish government has listened to Unite and removed the eligibility restriction. The announcement will provide reassurance and much needed financial assistance for many, in particular, those most in need. It’s vital that no driver is penalised when applying for the grant and to this end the Scottish government must use their welfare top-up powers if needs be to ensure that this is the case, while continuing to press the Department of Work and Pensions for these assurances. Many taxi drivers remain excluded from other support schemes and this must be addressed to ensure our members and the trade are supported as they face continued restrictions, which effect their ability to trade and earn a living. Let's remember the taxi trade is a vital part of our public transport network and we will continue to press for support for the taxi trade."