Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Estimates for Public Services 2021
Vote 29 - Environment, Climate and Communications (Revised)
Vote 31 - Transport (Revised)
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Naughton, for the update. I wish to raise supports for taxi drivers with her. I will refer to a number of the measures taken. There was €150 for the suitability test. There was a one-year extension, not a rollover. If taxi drivers were at nine years last year, they got an extra year, but they are faced with a significant cost this year. Why was that not rolled over as opposed to reintroduced? Taxi drivers cannot avail of many of the Government supports that exist. They cannot get loans. The restart grant plus the €1,000 is gone since the end of October. These are front-line workers, who work very closely with people who do emergency work for the State in many cases and they transport people and products to and from hospitals. As I see it, the big intervention from the Department was a scheme directly related to EVs that has had a very poor uptake. The sum of €36.5 million was provided in the form of supports for EVs. When I compare that to other Departments where similar workers were badly affected, for example, in the live performance sector, €50 million was injected into the sector. The money went right to the front line. Some €45 million is in current spending and €5 million is in capital spending. Why was this approach taken? Will the Minister of State review the approach to ensure that the Department's effort is directed where the money is needed, as opposed to a scheme that while it is necessary might not be needed in this shape and form at this time?
Taxi drivers have said they are struggling to make ends meet. I am not saying this for dramatic effect; taxi drivers and their representatives are in regular contact with me. They are really struggling and the response from the Department does not come anywhere close to providing anything real and meaningful for them. I ask the Minister of State to address that. Will she take stock of and reflect on the take-up of these schemes? Will she review how the lump sums are being injected into the sector?