TAXI drivers must be given financial support to cope during the pandemic, the former First Minister has urged.
Alex Salmond, who now leads the Alba Party, has called for Scotland’s finance secretary to provide assistance for couriers and drivers who he claims have been “neglected” during the health crisis.
Mr Salmond said many drivers who were gearing up for a busy Hogmanay will now face the prospect of very low earnings over the festive period, and urged Kate Forbes to step in.
He said: “The Scottish Government I was proud to lead would not have turned its back on private hire and taxi drivers as this government has done.
“But the mistakes of the past must not be repeated. Time is of the essence. They need support in the coming days, not weeks and not months.”
The Alba leader said taxi drivers were “essential workers every bit as much as bus drivers and railway staff.” adding: “However unlike other small businesses they have received very little compensation for loss of earnings and such support as they have received from Councils has been patchy and in some cases derisory with many private hire and taxi drivers forced out of business altogether.”
“It is now imperative that the Scottish Government steps in to support these essential workers. Kate Forbes must meet with their representatives such as the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) Scotland in early course and put in place a financial package of support.”
The Scottish Government said: “We are all too aware of the impact that COVID-19 has had – and continues to have – on business and the Scottish economy. The emergence of the new Omicron variant and the speed at which it is spreading brings even more economic uncertainty.
“That is why the actions we have taken so far, including the latest £375 million package of financial support recently announced by the First Minister, are firmly focused on supporting businesses, protecting jobs and mitigating the continuing impact of Covid on our wider economy.
“The Scottish Government is acutely aware of the financial implications for many businesses and we are working at pace with business sectors and industry to develop targeted financial support for businesses that will be impacted by the restrictions, including those required to close