Taxi drivers welcome £500 grants from Wakefield Council but say support must continue while Covid restrictions in place

Taxi drivers have welcomed grants of £500 per head from Wakefield Council, but say support must continue for as long as lockdown restrictions.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:02 pm
WDA spokesman Wajid Ali said the grants were "a start"
WDA spokesman Wajid Ali said the grants were "a start"

Local cabbies complained earlier this month they'd not been given enough financial help from the authority, which is responsible for distributing government grants to businesses during lockdown.

Nationwide union The National Private Hire and Taxi Association (NPHTA) said then that there was "disparity and confusion from one local authority to another" in how the industry was being supported.

Now the council has agreed to pay every one of its licensed drivers £500 through one of the grant schemes.

A nationwide taxi drivers' union said earlier this month there was "disparity and confusion" between local authorities over how best to support cabbies.

Waj Ali, from the Wakefield Drivers Association (WDA), said: "It's certainly a start and we welcome this, but we hope it's not the end and it's not the only one-off payment we'll get.

"If this is an acknowledgement from the council that we have overheads to pay, then we hope they will continue to pay us so we can cover those.

"Restrictions could continue for months and we are part of the supply chain that's affected by the hospitality industry remaining closed.

"As a trade, we've sympathy for all self-employed people - barbers, driving instructors and everyone - and hope they get the support they need."

It's understood that the council has paid the money to all of its licensed drivers regardless of whether or not they live in the Wakefield district - a move more generous than some other local authorities who've only offered support to those who live in that area.

But unions have also suggested that the estimated total of £800,000 spent on the grant money is less than that spent by other councils to support cabbies.

Abdul Rehman, chairman of Wakefield District Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association said, "We are grateful to Wakefield Council for the decision it has now made to pay a one-off grant of £500 to hackney carriage and private hire drivers because, as self-employed people who do not work from commercial premises, they have not been eligible for grants paid to other businesses to help meet their fixed business costs.

"Whilst I am sure all drivers hoped the grant would been for more than it is, we recognise that the total grant to be paid to drivers is probably the largest sum to be paid by the Council to any single industry.

"If the council finds itself in possession of more grant money, we would urge the council to consider making a further grant available to drivers, because £500 equates to less than £10 per week for the 12 months since the country went into the first lockdown.”

The council was contacted for comment.

Local Democracy Reporting Service