PRIVATE hire drivers are calling for the criteria for Solihull’s Covid-19 business grants to include non-residents working in the borough.
The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) say many of its members, who pay a licence fee to the council and work in the borough, are not eligible for Solihull Council’s Discretionary Business Grant scheme as they do not live in the borough.
The grant is available to companies who have suffered a downfall in monies due to the pandemic in the Solihull area that are not eligible for any of the other business support grants.
This includes those businesses not liable for business rates – for example those who run their business from home or from shared business space.
The Union is calling for the set £1,000 grant from the scheme to be handed to all drivers who have a Solihull licence and work in borough but do not live in it.
One ADCU member, who did not wish to be named, said: “We have been working throughout the pandemic to try and keep key workers going and we are being rear-ended when it comes to us asking for help.”
Prior to this ADCU had written to Solihull Council calling for the condition businesses should have a trading premises to be scrapped.
This was amended by the council but the condition of residency remains.
The member added: “We still face significant issue we are being asked to provide evidence we are residents.
“As badge holders, we can generally get a licence from any city – there’s no criteria to say we are residents but come to issuing grants we have to tick box to say we are residents.
“We want the discriminatory residents tick box removed.”
Solihull Council said it has been consistent in requiring applicants to be resident in the borough, either as businesses or individuals, to access its business support packages – as do other councils.
A Solihull Council spokesperson said: “As taxi drivers can choose to register and pay licence fees to one or more local authorities, where they pay their licence fee is not part of the Discretionary Business Grant scheme’s eligibility criteria.
“Taxi drivers not resident in Solihull can contact their own local authority to see what support it may be able to offer.
“The Council was one of the first in the region to put in place a discretionary business support package in May 2020 for businesses with premises in the borough or for those trading from home with a Solihull address.
“In response to the lockdown announced on January 4, the Council launched its new Discretionary Business Grant scheme on January 13.
“Already over 347 businesses and individuals have received in excess of £2.5m in support from these schemes.”