Self-employed taxi drivers call for support package as demand slumps due to coronavirus

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, tonight (Wednesday 25 March) wrote to the Department for Transport asking for immediate support as many drivers have seen nearly or all of their income disappear in the last week.

The key measures called for include:

  • Review of the licensing regime with emergency powers to cease all payments for licences and grant, under emergency powers, temporary extensions for up to three months for all those expected to renew within the next 12 weeks.
  • Suspension or dramatic reduction in license plate fees and rental fees associated with private hire cars including monthly radio fees.
  • Suspension of insurance where taxis are not operating as a result of lockdowns/expansion of social distancing measures.
  • Government must extend the wage support package to taxi drivers. If this is not possible, then a similar scheme of income protection should be extended to protect taxi drivers against financial losses they will incur to last as long as the social isolation measures – this could be calculated either individually based on last tax return, a monthly amount based on 80 per cent of typical earnings or at an agreed universal rate of £2,500.

Unite national officer Bobby Morton said: “We are asking for these range of measures as a matter of urgency as this is a fast-moving situation that needs innovative responses.

“A fortnight ago, our taxi driver members were looking forward to a lucrative period in the run-up to and through the Easter holiday period – now many of them face severe financial hardship.

“What we are proposing tonight in our letter to the Department for Transport is in line with Unite’s long-standing strategy to protect the jobs, pay and safety of our taxi driver members.

“Our taxi driver members are keen to play their part in the national fight against coronavirus and we would like to explore further the prime minister’s reference today that taxi drivers could ferry NHS workers between home-and-hospital – they are ideally suited professionally for this role.”

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