Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
1094. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to support taxi drivers in an industry that has been devastated by the collapse in tourism, air travel, pubs and restaurants, live entertainment and sports (details supplied); if a financial support package will be established for these drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7017/20]
1095. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if supports for new drivers entering the taxi industry will be ceased in view of the fact the industry is over-supplied; if a buy back scheme will be established in which taxi drivers exiting the industry can recover the cost they paid for their licences and or hand the licence on to a family member as an incentive for those exiting the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7018/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1094 and 1095 together.
The Government has put in place a range of measures to assist businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic, including a waiver of commercial rates and the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. Self-employed owner operators of SPSVs may also avail of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 a week.
I recognise that demand for SPSV services is particularly reliant on the tourism and hospitality sector, and since the onset of the Covid-19 Emergency and the introduction of restrictions as part of the necessary public health response, passenger demand for SPSV services has fallen radically and many SPSV operators have stopped working. The NTA has therefore taken action to reduce the immediate financial burden on SPSV operators and to make it easier for them to return to the industry when circumstances change.
The NTA has extended licences expiring before 12 June 2020 by three months, waived late licence renewal fees, and temporarily relaxed rules around vehicle age limits. The NTA has also engaged with the insurance industry to facilitate a suspension of SPSV insurance for those SPSV operators who decide to temporarily stop working and suspend their licences. Operators who suspend their licences will be able to either reduce their monthly premium or receive a refund from their insurer, depending on their individual arrangements with their insurer.
Finally, the transfer of SPSV licences, as suggested by the Deputy, is prohibited under section 14(1) of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.