Covid-19: Taxi drivers face ‘pauperisation’

Taxi drivers are facing a sharp downturn in fares.Taxi drivers are facing a sharp downturn in fares.
Taxi drivers are facing a sharp downturn in fares. | Other 3rd Party
The Stormont Executive is being urged to extend the coronavirus income guarantee to taxi drivers.

The call comes from Unite Regional Community Coordinator, Albert Hewitt, who says taxi drivers face “pauperisation” from depot-rent and car-rent charges at time of sharp downturn in fares.

He added: “Those who work as private hire taxi drivers operate as self-employed contractors to the taxi companies. In many cases, drivers pay the operators charge depot-rents which can be as high as £140 a week and those who don’t own their own vehicle also pay an additional vehicle rent of approximately £100 a week.

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“After you deduct for fuel, insurance and these rental charges, many drivers are left making a pittance for turning out to work day after day and risking exposure to coronavirus. Drivers are caught in a catch-22 situation where it makes no sense to continue working but they cannot stop as they can’t claim benefits due to their self-employed status.

“Drivers, like other self-employed workers, fell through the cracks of last week’s suite of extraordinary business supports announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Despite the risks involved in providing this essential service, there’s no safety for drivers net should they be forced to self-isolate with Coronavirus symptoms. Instead drivers face the immediate prospect of destitution as well as a life-threatening illness. Northern Ireland Executive Ministers must intervene now to extend income guarantee protections to all self-employed workers”, Mr Hewitt concluded.