Unite calls for support for taxi drivers facing financial ruin

Unite call for support for devastated industry.

Unite the union has put forward a six-point plan to help taxi drivers who have seen their income destroyed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Unite say there are 82,000 taxi drivers who are self employed and have seen their earnings fall off a cliff. Their income has reduced by 95% with some making just £10 over a seven hour shift in London.

Taxi drivers are keen to play their part in helping key workers during the crisis, with some offering to transport NHS workers to their jobs or patients to non-urgent appointments.

The six point plan calls for:

  • Wage support straight away with no delay until June.
  • No means testing of universal credit or other benefits.
  • Suspending or reducing all taxi-related running costs, including licence plate fees, monthly radio fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. This would include lifting the age limit on vehicles for those that may need to be changed within this next three months, to be suspended until late December.
  • Backing loan repayment holidays for private hire vehicles and moratoriums on marking down drivers’ credit files.
  • Emergency interim payments to keep the taxi on the road.
  • Reviewing the licensing regime and stop all payments for licences, with a three-month temporary extension for those expected to renew in the next 12 months.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “With most people staying at home the reduction in trade is so severe that taxi driver income, in many instances, does not cover operating costs. 

Many taxi drivers are already experiencing financial hardship.  Many of our members in the taxi sector have written to us in distress as they anticipate the collapse of their business and imminent destitution without further support from the government.”

Emma Burnell is a freelance journalist and political consultant.

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