TAXI drivers must receive financial support to face the pandemic, insisted the former Prime Minister.
Alex Salmond, who now leads the Alba party, has called on the Scottish Finance Secretary to provide assistance to couriers and drivers who he says have been “neglected” during the health crisis.
Mr Salmond said many drivers who were preparing for a busy Hogmanay will now face the prospect of very low incomes over the festive period, and urged Kate Forbes to intervene.
He said: “The Scottish government that I was proud to lead would not have turned its back on private drivers and taxi drivers like this government has.
“But the mistakes of the past should not be repeated. Time is running out. They need support in the days ahead, not weeks or months.”
The Alba leader said taxi drivers were “essential workers just as much as bus drivers and railway staff”. adding: “However, unlike other small businesses, they have received very little compensation for loss of income and the support they have received from advice has been spotty and in some cases paltry, with many private drivers and chauffeurs taxis being completely forced to close their doors.”
“It is now imperative that the Scottish Government steps in to support these essential workers. Kate Forbes must meet their representatives such as the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) Scotland at the start of the 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 Scottish businesses and the economy. The emergence of the new Omicron variant and the speed at which it spreads brings even more economic uncertainty.
“That is why the measures we have taken so far, including the latest £375 million financial support package recently announced by the Prime Minister, are firmly focused on supporting businesses, protecting jobs and mitigating the continued 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 the pace of business and industry sectors to develop targeted financial support for businesses that will be affected by the restrictions, including those due to close.