A north-east taxi boss has hailed a new funding package for drivers as a “godsend” after it was unveiled by government ministers.
The Scottish Government has made around £57 million available to support taxi and private hire drivers who have been affected by the pandemic.
In total, around 38,000 drivers across Scotland will be eligible to receive grants of £1,500.
Russell McLeod, the managing director of Aberdeen firm Rainbow City Taxis, said the cash would provide a huge boost to his staff – many of whom have not worked since restrictions were first introduced in March.
“It will be a godsend,” he said.
“The last 11 months have been incredibly tough for us as a business and for the drivers themselves. We have been able to benefit from the furlough scheme and the self-employment payments but those only go so far.
“This will be a fantastic late Christmas present for the drivers.
“Things have been dire and there are still drivers who have not worked since March. It’s really important they get something.”
Drivers will not need to apply for funding and will be contacted directly by their local authority.
They must have been licensed for the period between October 9, 2020 and January 31 this year.
Scottish Government finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “We know how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families. They’ve truly gone the extra mile, continuing to provide a vital service for key workers and vulnerable individuals throughout the lockdown and beyond.
“Following the introduction of tighter regulations at Christmas I have trebled the budget originally announced for this fund to £57 million, enough to provide grants of £1,500 to all of Scotland’s 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers.
“It will help to support the taxi trade by augmenting existing support and assisting drivers in meeting fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road.”
Councils will begin contacting drivers this week.