Struggling taxi drivers across the north have issued urgent calls for the Scottish and UK Governments to provide more support for the industry as it faces a “desperate” battle brought on by pandemic challenges.
The plea comes as passenger numbers continue to plummet, and concerns are rising about some drivers falling through the cracks for government support.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has voiced concerns that if additional support measures are not introduced then many in the industry will be “forced to cease trading”.
Last night, Inverness Taxi Alliance chairman Andrew Macdonald said the pandemic has “accelerated” the massive issue of “oversubscribed” taxi licences in the Highland capital threatening people’s livelihoods.
Mr MacDonald said: “Many drivers have abandoned their own licences for private firms to get a living.
“The situation is really desperate and any help the governments can put forward will be a massive help – however, £1,500 will not go close to what is required for struggling drivers.
“There is no living for taxi drivers – people are abandoning licences in their droves and seeking other jobs like delivering parcels as they can’t make a living of taxi driving.”
In Aberdeenshire, Allways Taxis managing director William Gauld described the impact the restrictions have had on his firm.
Mr Gauld said: “Saturday was normally the busiest evening however we are lucky to need to have two cabs now.
“It has been really difficult and drivers are just doing the school runs and then going home.
“The governments have left the taxi industry behind to try to survive on our own, however have chosen to support other industries.”
Moray Taxis’ Harry Williamson, who is relying on contract work , added: “The amount of trade coming through these days has dramatically been cut. Any support would be much appreciated.
“We are working day by day now and some days have been better than others during these uncertain times.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the extension of the self-employed income support scheme so drivers can obtain 80% of previous earnings and the Economy Secretary has written to the Chancellor calling for this to be extended to the recently self-employed.
“We are currently considering further support for fixed costs pressures on self-employed taxi drivers.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “We understand that taxi drivers are struggling as a result of the pandemic, which is why we have given them access to a wide range of support.”