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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:50 pm 
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Other thread on Scotland Covid support was getting a bit messy, but in any case this is about a slightly different topic. I think.

Unite and TaxiPoint are punting this along with the other stuff, but I think it's really about a different scheme.

Note that the following is about 'operators', which in Scotland is a plateholder, hence why I've used the latter term in the thread title, for clarity. Nothing to do with the 'operators' south of the border.

As mentioned previously, the Scottish scheme has been aimed purely at badgeholders, and I think the stuff below is all about non-working proprietors, and fleet operators, who were never in the equation to start with.

So I don't think this has anything to do with the uncertainty over the extent of top-ups to the existing scheme. The £20m underspend on the £57m taxi fund referred to below is about the badgeholders' scheme. The operators/plateholders below were never in the frame in the first place :?


Scottish Government tells taxi operators “No COVID-19 support fund will be made available to you”

https://www.taxi-point.co.uk/post/scott ... ble-to-you

Scottish government have today told the country’s taxi operators that there will be no COVID-19 financial support package offered to them.

The news has left members of the industry shocked and frustrated, as the operators desperately need financial aid to help survive and recover from the terrible impact the global pandemic has had on the trade.

A spokesperson from Unite the Union Cab Section, said: “The Cab Section is bitterly disappointed to report that the SNP Government has decided that no money will be made available to taxi operators to mitigate the devastating impact of Covid. Kate Forbes, Cabinet Finance Secretary has rejected Unite proposals for help.

“It is important to know that the UK Government provided adequate funds to help our industry. However, the allocation of monies has left much to be desired. For example, when asked what has happened to the £20M underspend from the £57M taxi support fund, we were advised it goes back to the Scottish Government. When asked if the Scottish Government would be handing it back to the UK Government, a less than transparent response was given. It was along the lines of ‘other sectors may benefit from that money.

“Unite is preparing its response but what we are absolutely clear on, the campaign for fair treatment of our industry is far from over.”

Chairman of one of the country’s largest taxi firm’s, Dougie McPherson said: "We are extremely disappointed by today's decision which leaves taxi operators disproportionately impacted by a lack of Covid funding that has been made available elsewhere.

"The Scottish Taxi Federation put forward a detailed proposal based on researched facts and figures and one which took a realistic view as to what funding might be available and where that was most needed.

"While we were informed today that no such funding is currently available, we are very keen to continue this discussion on behalf of affected operators following the election period and once a new administration has been formed.

"We remain acutely aware that sectors of all shapes and sizes are affected by the current economic environment. However, even without Covid, the taxi trade's roadmap for the future is extremely challenging. The support and partnership working of government at both a national and local level is critical should Glasgow aspire to retain a safe public taxi service fit for the future."


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:23 pm 
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The SNP must have seriously destroyed Scotlands coffers because normally just prior to Scottish parliamentary elections they are throwing Scotlands (UK) cash around to all and sundrie like confetti in their attempt to buy Votes....Not this time thogh.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:52 pm 
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When B&H council passed the £400 grant to drivers, quite a few so called leaders of the trade down here got the hump the grant wasn't going to non licensed owners i.e. the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I was not one of those supporting those so called leaders. In fact it was quite the opposite. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:24 pm 
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Just realised that I'm in agreement with the Scottish Government.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:51 am 
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Sussex wrote:
When B&H council passed the £400 grant to drivers, quite a few so called leaders of the trade down here got the hump the grant wasn't going to non licensed owners i.e. the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.

So it's basically the same debate that's now going on up here then :?

Anyway, the minister responsible has tweeted :roll: the following:

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Which is obviously good news for the trade in a way, particularly as the SNP are certain to form the next Scottish Government.

But just shows the nonsense of it all - they basically can't announce any more funding because of the election rules, so all a tad ridiculous if you're depending on the cash.

Kate Forbes also said that her tweet was in response to today's comments about 'further taxi grants'. So I'm not sure if she's just not appreciating the badgeholder/plateholder distinction, or if she's just trying to brush over it for political reasons. There's certainly a shedload of political stuff online from people who aren't in the trade, and obviously think the trade has had nothing, so I suspect her comments are at least partly aimed in that direction.

Anyway, whether she's just trying to spin it and deflect from the plateholder thing isn't clear, but what she certainly seems to be saying is that the next £1,500 will go to badgeholders again, and the plate is empty for, er, plateholders :?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:52 am 
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...but I think that's new money, and the top-ups discussed in the other thread is basically just the old pot of money which was undersubscribed:

Saw this, which is from a private Facebook page, but seems to be basically saying the same as the tweet I posted last night.

Image

So us up here will hopefully still get a £1k or so top-up pretty soon, and hopefully cop another £1.5k after the election in May :-o =D> [-o<


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:57 pm 
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Isn't that called a bribe? :-k

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 6:11 am 
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Sussex wrote:
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Isn't that called a bribe? :-k


Purdah is the period in the United Kingdom between the announcement of an election and the formation of the new elected government. It affects civil servants, who must be politically impartial, preventing central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Purdah does not apply to candidates for political office. Where a court determines that actual advantage has been given to a candidate, this may amount to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:22 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Isn't that called a bribe? :-k

Certainly looks like a workaday election bribe. But as the purdah rules posted by Grandad demonstrate, as long as it's just a campaign promise rather than an actual measure taken during the purdah period, then it's permissable. Or, of course, election campaigns wouldn't be able to function in their present form.

Which in essence, is what Kate Forbes was saying in her tweet.

But just underlines the nonsense of it all if it concerns vital funding when people have zero or very limited income compared to normal.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:24 pm 
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Anyway, Unite seem to have issued a press release, which is covered in a couple of different news outlets. There's quite a long piece in the Herald, but it goes over a lot of old ground, so haven't bothered with that.

But there's this in the Edinburgh Evening News, which seems to misrepresent what Unite says a bit:

The headlines, and strapline in particular, gives the impression that it's about reopening the fund for the one third of drivers who didn't apply, but in fact it seems to be about divvying up what was left of the fund between those who *did* apply. See highlighted text.


Reopen grant scheme to support taxi drivers, demands Unite Scotland

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/ ... nd-3194190

A taxi driver grant scheme should be reopened because a third of cabbies have missed out, Unite Scotland has demanded.

The trade union has accused the Scottish Government of “withholding” £19 million in unawarded grants from the £57 million Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund that has now closed.

But Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has instead pledged to give a second grant worth £1,500 to taxi drivers who received the first one – if the SNP government is re-elected.

About 25,333 eligible drivers out of an estimated 38,000 across Scotland applied for the £1,500 grant, according to the union.

Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty has also warned of a postcode lottery for a “top up” of coronavirus support awarded to taxi drivers by local authorities.

Several councils have announced discretionary grants, including Aberdeen and Dundee city councils which will offer additional grants of £1,000 for taxi and private hire drivers, while Angus Council has launched £2,500 worth of extra financial support.

Mr Rafferty said: “Despite the tentative easing of lockdown restrictions, the taxi trade remains decimated by the pandemic and will be one of the last trades to recover.

“Taxi operators and drivers are desperate for help, and the withholding of around £19 million is a disgrace.

“At every turn the Scottish Government has been dragged kicking and screaming into giving support to the taxi trade, which is in crisis.

“We are demanding that the Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund be reopened to allow an additional top-up grant from this central pot of cash.

“The reality is that there is a postcode lottery in terms of the levels of support for the trade.”

Unite, which represents operators and drivers across the trade, has also been campaigning for the Scottish Government to deliver a £10,000 grant for each taxi operator, equivalent to support given to other small business owners.

Mr Rafferty added: “Urgent and immediate help is required before thousands of businesses become unsustainable.

“For many people taxis are a vital part of the transport network, but without help many will not survive the Covid-19 crisis.”

On Twitter, Ms Forbes wrote: “During the election period, I cannot make announcements on behalf of Scot Gov about business grants, including for taxi drivers. However, I can confirm that if re-elected we will double the taxi grant to those already in receipt of the first £1500 grant.

“Our business support schemes exceed the consequentials we’ve received, and we’ve gone further to help a number of industries. We will use any funds available in the taxi scheme to deliver a second grant to all recipients of the first £1500 grant.

“This is in response to public comments today about Scot Gov not agreeing to further taxi grants, that’s partly because announcements cannot be made during the pre-election period.”


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 3:26 pm 
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For what it's worth this is the piece in The Herald about it all. Reasonable piece for those who don't know the background, but goes over a lot of old ground, such as the stuff about how the grant might have affected benefits when the fund was launched.

So not really essential reading, but there is one interesting paragraph which quantifies how what was left of the original fund could be divvied up among those who did apply. (Highlighted to save anyone reading the whole piece.)

Also a passing mention of how lack of awareness might have affected the take up (highlighted), but we did that to death a few days ago on another thread ](*,)

Anyway, I'd done the legwork with this article before deciding it maybe wasn't worth the time for the average reader on here, so for the record here it is anyway.


Taxi drivers: Unite Scotland demand extra support

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/192 ... i-drivers/

MINISTERS are under fire for 'withholding' taxi support cash as drivers face a postcode lottery of support during the pandemic.

Unite Scotland is furious after it was told that the an underspend of £19m on the vital fund has been reallocated - despite an original mix up over who is eligible.

It is estimated around 25,333 eligible drivers out of an estimated 38,000 drivers across Scotland applied for the £1,500 grant.

It comes after the launch of the fund at the start of the year was branded "farcical" because it emerged that drivers on universal credit would not be able to apply.

It means that to date a third of all drivers in Scotland have not claimed the grant, raising questions about the levels of awareness regarding the fund.

Union leaders have strongly criticised the Scottish Government for 'withholding' the money stating that thousands of taxi drivers and operators will now be "left abandoned".

They said that without further national support from the Scottish Government, workers within the taxi trade face a ‘postcode lottery’ as most drivers across the country remain excluded from local authority discretionary schemes.

So far only a small number of local authority have announced specific ‘top-up' funds to help taxi drivers.

Local discretionary support has been agreed by the Aberdeen City Council through a £1,000 grant. Dundee City Council has also set a £1,000 grant for taxi and private hire drivers and in the Angus Council are they will get an additional £2,500 financial support grant on top of the initial £1,500 grant made available.

Some drivers have been forced to take out business loans to pay regular bills including council tax.

Taxi journeys had fallen significantly since the start of the pandemic, with union leaders claiming 80% of taxi drivers had lost up to three quarters of their usual incomes.

The £57m fund was launched in January, to help with taxi costs including licence fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road.

But the Scottish government confirmed that not all drivers would benefit.

Those drivers who were already claiming state benefits - including Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers' Allowance or Income Support - between 17 March and 31 December 2020, or have applied for but not yet started receiving Universal Credit at the time of applying were designated as not eligible for the fund.

The Scottish government said there was risk that if the grant was paid to people on Universal Credit, it would count as income and result in a reduction in their benefits.

It then called on the Department for Work and Pensions to amend its criteria to ensure that drivers on Universal Credit can benefit from the full £1,500 payment.

But the DWP said the Scottish government was being "misleading" and "has significant welfare powers" of its own.

Following the furore and within 24 hours, ministers agreed that those receiving state benefits at any time since March last year would be eligible.

At the time of the launch, while taxis were still allowed to operate despite the lockdown that was in place, they saw passenger numbers fall away as bars, restaurants and schools closed.

In announcing the grant, 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 £57m, enough to provide grants of £1,500 to all of Scotland's 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers."

Unite Scotland said officials had told them there are no further plans for national help from the Scottish Government to drivers and operators within the taxi trade.

They are now demanding that the fund be re-opened to allow those most in need within the trade to be able to reapply for an additional grant.

Based on the numbers of drivers who have claimed from the Fund, this would allow a further top-up grant of around £750 to each driver from the £57 million Fund.


Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: “Despite the tentative easing of lockdown restrictions, the taxi trade remains decimated by the pandemic and will be one of the last trades to recover. Taxi operators and drivers are desperate for help, and the withholding of around £19 million is a disgrace.

"At every turn the Scottish Government has been dragged kicking and screaming into giving support to the taxi trade, which is in crisis. We are demanding that the Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund be re-opened to allow an additional top-up grant from this central pot of cash. The reality is that there is a postcode lottery in terms of the levels of support for the trade.

"Urgent and immediate help is required before thousands of businesses become unsustainable. For many people taxis are a vital part of the transport network but without help many will not survive the covid crisis.”

An online survey of over 200 taxi drivers released in December 2020 by Unite Scotland highlighted that many drivers are regularly working 16-17-hour days with a shift being determined as having been ‘good’ if £50 is cleared.

The survey also showed that 30% of drivers have been unable to access any financial help from government support schemes. For those that have been able to access financial help from government the biggest group (37%) reported that it represents less than 25% of their average earnings.

In mid-December, taxi drivers mounted a protest at the Scottish Parliament to help assure the survival of an industry that dates back a century.

Concerns about the trade's future emerged as at that point nearly one in three had been unable to get financial support from government support schemes.

As self-employed workers, many cabbies had been entitled to benefit from the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), however the grant focussed heavily on the driver profits. The high operating costs involved in running a licensed taxi meant many had been struggling to find enough work to tide them over until the pandemic passes.

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:10 pm 
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It does make sense to redistribute the unclaimed money to drivers who have already received a grant.

Is there an end date for first application? If not make one then redistribute the rest.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 3:42 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
It does make sense to redistribute the unclaimed money to drivers who have already received a grant.

Is there an end date for first application? If not make one then redistribute the rest.

Closing date for applications was 25 March. In fact it had already been extended for seven days.

But there seems to be some confusion over what's to be done with the excess cash left over because it's been underclaimed. I think five councils have now made additional grants and, if the stuff posted earlier is correct, the other councils have been instructed to do likewise.

However, this was sent out by Glasgow City Council, which says they're required to send back any unclaimed cash. But the stuff about discussions with the Scottish Government suggests that it's maybe not all cut and dried yet. And, as Unite has said, obviously the five councils which *have* paid an additional grant haven't got the message:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 3:43 pm 
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For what it's worth, this is the other council that's paying out that hasn't been mentioned on here - West Dunbartonshire. Note that it says the payout is from the discretionary fund rather than the taxi driver grant fund, so maybe that explains the other councils' payouts as well.

But note that Glasgow above said that Scottish Government guidelines stipulate that taxi driver grants couldn't be made from the discretionary fund because of the more specific, ring-fenced pot of money for the trade :?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2021 3:44 pm 
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Also an interesting find made by Glasgow Unite. Because of the Covid legislation, parliament isn't actually dissolved, it's in recess.

So parliament can be recalled if necessary, and MSPs continue in their roles rather than there being no MSPs (as is normally the case during election campaigns).

So Unite thinks that means the normal purdah rules don't apply. I'm not so sure about that, since it's maybe a slightly different thing, but it's an interesting point nonetheless.

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