Private-Hire Drivers & Cabbies To Benefit From Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund, Will Replace Special Relief Fund

During to the ‘Circuit Breaker’ period, taxi and private-hire car drivers saw their income plunge.

Unlike employees and businesses, these drivers may not be covered under other support schemes released by the Government, and had to rely on initiatives like the Special Relief Fund (SRF).

As 2021 approaches, taxi and private-hire drivers have received the good news that the Government will continue to support them under a new scheme.

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Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor, who announced this in a Facebook post, said they’ll get a total of $3,150 from January to June next year.

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Taxi operators will also chip in at least a total of $1,800 during these 6 months.

Drivers currently get $300/month under Special Relief Fund

Currently, taxi drivers and private-hire drivers get $300 per vehicle per month under the SRF, which was supposed to expire in September.

However, on 12 Sep, Dr Khor said the drivers would get more support, and shortly after that the SRF was extended till 2021.

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Eligible drivers could also take advantage of the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) to get $1,000 a month for 9 months.

However, SIRS will be ending on 1 Jan 2021.

New Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund will give out more every month

Thus, the Government is rolling out a scheme that’s more generous than the SRF – the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF).

It’ll give drivers $300 more for 3 months — $600 a month from January to March.

Thereafter, they’ll get $450 a month from April to June.

That’s a total of $3,150 for the 1st 6 months of 2021.

The payout will be in the form of rebates on their rental.

CDRF will replace existing schemes from 1 Jan 2021

Dr Khor said the CDRF will replace the SRF and SIRS for drivers from 1 Jan 2021.

According to a news release from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), about 52,000 who’re eligible for the SRF will be automatically transferred to the CDRF.

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The CDRF will also cost the Government about $133 million more, over and above the $55 million already set aside for the SRF.

However, drivers who get the CDRF grant won’t be eligible for the Covid-19 Recovery Grant.

Cab operators to top up with $300/month

In another Facebook update on Friday (18 Dec), Dr Khor revealed another piece of good news for taxi drivers.

Cab operators will be topping up the sum with another $300 per month from January to June.

That’s a total of $1,800 for these 6 months.

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All in all, when the CDRF is added to the mix, taxi drivers will get $4,950 from January to June.

Drivers’ income still affected by Covid-19

Dr Khor announced the schemes after meeting up with representatives from the Point-to-Point (P2P) sector, like the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association.

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She said that though the imminent transition into Phase 3 will mean more people will be out and about, there’s still been a discernable shift in commuting patterns due to Covid-19.

In particular, income from tourists will remain low, and many workers are also working from home.

Thus, even though passenger traffic has increased, the length of trips have shortened and drivers’ incomes are still being affected.

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The CDRF will thus come go some way to alleviating their loss of income.

Rental rebates a more effective way of paying out

However, the payout will be in the form of rental rebates and not cash, with Dr Khor saying,

This mode of payment has proven to be an effective and efficient way to provide the relief to the drivers via established payment channels.

She added that there’s “no difference” between rental rebates leading to drivers’ having more cash in hand, or no rental rebates but the payout being in cash.

Drivers are essential workers, glad they’ll be supported

During the recent ‘Circuit Breaker’, it was saddening to know that our taxi and private-hire drivers had been badly affected, as evidenced by the long queues of taxis without passengers.

Thus, it’s heartening that they’ll be given some form of support till June, when hopefully the Covid-19 situation improves.

We hope the support given to essential workers like them will be sufficient to safeguard their livelihoods.

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Featured images adapted from Facebook and Facebook.