Liverpool City Council is to give a grant to thousands of hard-pressed cab drivers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city’s 3,886 licensed drivers rely on the previously booming hospitality, events and tourism sector for a lot of their income, and were hit hard earlier this year when it dried up overnight due to the lockdown.
On Wednesday 14 October, pubs and bars in the city region closed again as Liverpool entered tier-3 coronavirus restrictions to try and curb the steep rise in cases over the last few weeks, meaning they are again without much of their trade.
A report approved by the council’s Cabinet on Friday 23 October will see Hackney and private hire vehicle drivers given a grant equivalent to the £40 cost of their driver badge, plus a further £170 for their vehicle plate if they own the cab – a total of up to £210.
The cost – £663,400 – will be covered through the £10 million set aside by the council earlier this month to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 trading restrictions in the visitor economy.
Detail on how the grant will be made available will be publicised in the coming days.
CAB NUMBERS IN LIVERPOOL
1426 – hackney carriages
1882 – hackney carriage drivers
1561 – private hire vehicles
2004 – private hire drivers
(NB: some vehicles are used by more than one driver)
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “I know how incredibly difficult this year has been for taxi drivers, with the lockdown from March and the new restrictions that have recently been placed on Liverpool City Region.
“It is particularly tough for them at the moment because – as I have been saying repeatedly over the last few weeks – the support package made available by the government is simply not good enough.
“The taxi trade is a valued part of the city’s economy, particularly as they are among the first people that visitors to our city come into contact with. So this is our way of doing what we can to assist them during these unprecedented times.
“I would also urge people to use local taxi drivers and firms where they can, to help support the trade through this tough period.”
Tommy McIntyre from the union UNITE, which represents many drivers in Liverpool, added: “We are grateful to the support being shown to the trade by the city council.
“We are concerned that if there is no support to help the trade, we may not have a trade when we come out of this latest lockdown period.
“It is not just the financial wellbeing of our drivers that is at stake, but their mental health and the impact on their families.”