South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed a Scottish Government u-turn on taxi grant criteria.

A new £1,500 grant for taxi drivers affected by a huge drop in passenger numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic was announced on Monday but the criteria excluded anyone who had applied for Universal Credit, despite many taxi drivers being forced to do so while waiting months for this announcement.

However, just a day later (Tuesday), the Scottish Government said taxi and private hire drivers who have received state benefits at any time since March last year will now be eligible for the support grant as long as they meet the remaining criteria.

Colin Smyth said: “Taxi drivers have seen a massive drop in passenger numbers since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

“As a result, many applied for benefits because they had no choice given the utter lack of help from the Scottish Government.

“It was deeply unfair that the Scottish Government initially said they would deny taxi drivers on benefits any help, so I welcome this u-turn.

“However, the planned grants are still just £1,500 – when in Wales the Welsh Government are providing up to £4,000.

“I hope the Scottish Government will rethink their proposals further and increase support. In the meantime, it is vital that payments are made to local taxi drivers as soon as possible by councils.

“It was November when I first raised this issue with the First Minister in Parliament and it has taken too long for the Government to act.”

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