Taxi drivers face uncertainty in the face of new lockdowns


With Covid-19 cases on the rise and Lockdown 2.0 lasting until Dec. 2, gig works face an uncertain future. Restaurants, pubs and other non-essential shops shuttered their doors but schools, workplaces and universities remain open.

Where does that leave taxi drivers in Bristol and around the UK? After a disappointing development with Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, many drivers fear the £1,500 one-time payment will do little to ease their financial burden. Many are self-employed. Despite the one-time payment, taxi drivers face a growing challenge if they remain out of work like the first lockdown.

The Government’s Response

Many drivers view the payment as a “go away” payment, but the government doubled down on their belief that they are doing all they can to support taxi services in Bristol and across the UK. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted some of the restrictions revolving around work and socializing could remain in place past the December 2nd lifting of Lockdown 2.0

The Prime Minister did acknowledge the government would extend the worker support program until the end of March. The worker support program pays 80% of the furloughed worker’s wages if they qualify. Even with programs like this in place, taxi drivers will feel the brunt of a lockdown once again.

Taxi Drivers Will Continue To Face Challenges

If the government feels four weeks isn’t enough time or didn’t flatten the rising trend, a full-scale lockdown could happen. Right now, drivers are still able to take people to work, school or university. However, with fewer people out shopping right now, there is less of a demand for drivers.

Many drivers are still struggling with a 10-15% loss in business since the first lockdown. Many have yet to bounce back. As their taxi fleets cost money to operate, it is hard for them to justify spending money on gas when they need to put food on the table. Yet, without the steady stream of income from their taxi service, how can they believe they can put money on the table.

These challenges will not go away overnight. While some drivers do welcome the £1,500 one-time payment, the government will need to continue to find ways to support the taxi service industry or face the possibility that the industry will collapse. Ultimately, the taxi service industry in the UK is beholden to supply and demand. With the lockdown taking effect, demand is down and this means the money will be too.

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