As many as 30 Dundee taxi drivers could have already quit the business as coronavirus restrictions decimate trade, it has been claimed.
Taxi driver union representative Chris Elder said business has become so sparse drivers are not renewing their registrations and instead, taking alternatives jobs or moving on to Universal Credit in order to survive.
The Unite the Union taxi branch secretary said fresh restrictions announced on Tuesday, including a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a ban on visiting people in each other’s homes, will make it even harder for taxis and private hires to turn a profit.
He said: “The new restrictions will have a devastating effect on trade.
“There are already cars that are sitting there because drivers can’t get out and make a living.
“I know there are quite a few guys that didn’t renew. They want to try and get other jobs or universal credit. I would say 20 to 30 vehicles have been lost already.”
He said the 10pm curfew could, in effect, mean the end of a day and night shift for city drivers and the rules on household visits would disrupt another crucial source of income.
“The majority of cars will only do a day shift and that will make things even worse.
“We were getting fares going from one house to another but that is now out as well. Drivers will be sitting in ranks waiting on fares. That will affect us, big time.”
He said on Wednesday morning he had personally earned half of what he would have expected prior to the pandemic.
“I have been on since 8 o’clock in the morning and I have had three fares. I have around £17 on the meter.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson said he expected the hospitality restrictions to last at least six months, though first minister Nicola Sturgeon later said that may not be the case when addressing the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Elder said government support for the self-employed must continue for as long as restrictions continue to affect trade.
He said he had received two payments designed to support self-employed workers.
“This has to continue. They should look after taxi drivers and their families. The alternative is families turning to foodbanks.”
The second stage of the UK government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme opened for applications in mid-august.
A UK government spokesman said more than 2.7 million people have benefitted from the scheme so far, receiving £7.8 billion