Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (122)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

122. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Transport given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular with the advent of the B117 variant, if he will advise the actions he is taking to support taxi drivers; and if he will consider establishing a working group in his Department to liaise with stakeholders and set out a scheme to allow drivers over 65 years of age exit the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2950/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am aware of the challenges facing small public service vehicle (SPSV) operators of all ages. My Department and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have taken action throughout the pandemic and none of the measures are restricted in any way by the age of the driver or licence holder. Operators of all ages have benefited from the NTA's waiver of late renewal fees, extension of vehicle age limits and facilitation of insurance suspensions for any operators who decided to temporarily stop working.

The recent Budget contained a waiver of vehicle licence renewal fees for 2021, a measure which all licence-holders of all ages can benefit from. The Budget also contained a €15 million scrappage scheme for all SPSV operators with older vehicles.

I am aware that many SPSV operators have benefitted from the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), which I understand is not open to individuals over the age of 66. The PUP and its age criterion, and any other social protection payments to individuals over the age of 66, or any schemes for individuals going into retirement, are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys T.D.

The Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles (SPSVs), also known as the Taxi Advisory Committee, has been established under legislation to provide both the Minister and the NTA with an informed view on relevant policy and regulatory matters that represents the balance of interests across the industry and related stakeholders. As such, it is the appropriate forum for dealing with issues affecting the sector, including the issues identified in the question, and I do not believe that it is either necessary or appropriate to establish another group as suggested by the Deputy.