17 May 2021| | 3 min read
Newcastle taxi drivers urged to apply for grant
Newcastle City Council is urging taxi drivers across the city to come forward for a £250 grant.
Around a third of taxi drivers in the city have still to apply for the Essential Business Grant, which is due to close on 31 May.
The council estimate that just under 4,000 taxi drivers in the city are eligible for the one-off payment, but only 2,731 drivers have applied to the scheme.
Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has hit businesses across the city hard and this includes our taxi drivers, who saw their trade disappear through three lockdowns as people were told to stay at home.
“This grant is to help with people’s livelihoods, so we are urging everyone who is eligible to come forward before the deadline.
“We made a commitment that all funding Newcastle receives from government will be spent in the city, for the city. Any unclaimed grants will be re-allocated to other business support needs, with not one penny returned to government.
“Since this pandemic started, we’ve provided tens of millions in grants to help support our local economy and protect jobs. We’ve lobbied government hard to make sure the voices of Newcastle’s business community are heard, and we will continue to do so to help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic.
“We are steadfastly focusing on the recovery of the city with our partners and have plans in place to ensure that our great city thrives again.”
The grants are part of the council’s Essential Business Grant scheme, which launched in February to support essential businesses who were not forced to close during lockdown, but suffered financial hardship due to low footfall.
A pot of £500,000 was available to support small and medium-sized essential businesses, such as city centre sandwich shops which relied on office workers. The £4,000 grant was used to help off-set fixed costs such as rents and was fully allocated within weeks due to high demand for the limited funding.
Around £1 million was also set aside for the city’s licensed taxis, with £250 for every licensed taxi driver in the city. Two-thirds of the fund has been paid out to hackney and private hire drivers. The remaining eligible drivers have until 31 May to apply for the grant.
The council will also be contacting taxi drivers directly to encourage take-up of the grant. Any unclaimed grants will be re-allocated towards other business support needs to ensure all of Newcastle’s funding is fully allocated.
An online application form is available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport with payments made within five to ten working days.
Since the start of the pandemic, the council has issued over £100 million in cash grants to local firms. Current grant schemes that are available include the £1,500 Springback grant which is aimed at businesses that have received little or no grant support over the last 6 months, such as home-based and mobile businesses.
Full details are available on the council’s website.