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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:57 pm 
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Taxi drivers miss out on support payment over 'administrative nonsense'

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/l ... t-20489268

South Cambridgeshire District Council says 'we have stuck to the guidance of allocating funds'

Taxi drivers claim they are missing out on a much-needed pandemic-related support payment from South Cambridgeshire District Council, with one describing the situation as “unjust” and an “administrative nonsense”.

Paul Clare, general manager at Panther taxis, believes at least 190 drivers have missed out on a £500 support payment which they would have received had they been licensed in neighbouring districts.

He said it is “wrong”, and that the drivers are “not asking for the earth”.

South Cambridgeshire District Council said it is following the government guidance on allocating the payment.

Like all councils, South Cambridgeshire District Council has been provided with government funding to provide discretionary grants to businesses in their areas which have been severely impacted by the pandemic restrictions, which can be in addition to other government support.

'Falling through the cracks'

The national criteria for the discretionary fund has proved somewhat of a grey area for taxi drivers, as they can operate across district boundaries, and can be licensed and registered in different areas.

South Cambs is offering a payment starting at £500 for taxi drivers who live in the district and are licensed by the council. But this criteria has been criticised for leaving many “falling through the cracks”.

Cambridge City Council is offering its version of the payment – starting at £700 – to drivers it licenses, regardless of where they live. East Cambridgeshire District Council is offering its version to drivers who either live in the district or are licensed there.

The discrepancy means drivers who are licensed in South Cambridgeshire but who live outside of the area – for example in Cambridge – are missing out on the payment.

Bob Denton lives in Cambridge, but is licensed by South Cambridgeshire District Council, and has been “for about 18 years”, which he said began when he lived in the district.

He said his earnings have been “down by at least a third if not a half including the support from the government” during the pandemic.

'Political administrative nonsense'

He said he and drivers like him have been in “survival mode”, and that the £500 discretionary payment would help with ongoing fixed costs such as insurance, car maintenance, and paying the council its annual fee for the taxi licence.

“This is a political administrative nonsense in my view”, he said of South Cambridgeshire’s discretionary payment policy, “this is the sort of thing I thought I left behind when I was a school boy – you’re not in my gang, you’re in their gang”.

He added: “That’s not their money – they are being asked to pass it on by central government”.

“I think it’s an injustice,” he said, adding the council is “withholding £100,000”.

Mr Clare estimates 190 to 210 drivers registered with Panther are “falling through the net”, and as there are other companies operating in the area, he said “there has to be quite a number more”.

He said the taxi industry “is on its knees as a result of Covid”, and with the loss of tourism, students, the language school season and high levels of working from home, “it’s on its knees in the Cambridge area more than most other places”.

“Even now, if the guys get 25 per cent of what they used to get pre-Covid, they have had a good day” he said, adding the additional support payment “doesn’t solve a myriad of problems for them, but it is gratefully received”.

He said the drivers that have worked throughout the pandemic “are key workers”, and have run essential journeys, delivered food and prescriptions, as well as run discounted and free journeys to vaccine centres. “If you are sitting in a taxi, you’re right in the eye of the storm – you are putting yourself at risk”, he said.

He said drivers who live locally and are servicing the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire area are missing out on the payment.

He said he has appealed to the council several times on behalf of the drivers registered with Panther, but without success.

He acknowledged there are other councils who have adopted the same approach as South Cambs, but said as the district surrounds the city and with house prices so high, the area has “unique geography”.

He also pointed to the policy adopted by Cambridge and East Cambridgeshire, as well as other areas such as in Liverpool and Yorkshire which he said have set up cross-district systems, as examples of how the situation could have been avoided. He said it is “easy” to check if the drivers have already received a payment from another authority.

South Cambridgeshire District Council said it licenses 1,061 taxi drivers, and so far has paid out 55 of the £500 discretionary grants.

Council response

A spokesperson for South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Since March last year, we’ve allocated around £35 million in government support grants to nearly 5,000 local businesses, traders and companies.

“This includes £27,500 in recent grants to local taxi drivers and a further £100,000 to the wider South Cambridgeshire taxi industry via discretionary grants.

“We’ve written to every taxi driver in the district who is entitled to a £500 grant and, so far, around two-thirds of them are yet to claim.

“Government guidance is very clear that grant funding was allocated to us based on the number of people who live in the district.

“Therefore, we have stuck to the guidance of allocating funds only to people or businesses in South Cambridgeshire.

“Many taxi drivers have licenses across multiple districts and may be receiving several payments from different neighbouring authorities.

“We remain committed to supporting local business and those most in need and have indeed been doing exactly that for taxi businesses registered in the district.”


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:57 pm 
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Posts: 7543
South Cambridgeshire District Council wrote:
“Many taxi drivers have licenses across multiple districts and may be receiving several payments from different neighbouring authorities."

Numbers? Can't be that many.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 7:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 7:30 pm
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Location: 1066 Country
This is a council that licenses anything that moves, and when they do get licensed they move and work elsewhere.

Part of me thinks the council should pay up to justify all the license fees they have stolen from other councils, but the other part of me thinks the drivers should get SFA as they are also abusing the licensing process.

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