SNP MSP Stuart McMillan today raised safety concerns over new taxi apps, such as Uber, entering the Scottish market. He also highlighted possible threats to the taxi industry and jobs, as well as revenue loses to the public purse via licence fees to Council’s and tax to the UK Treasury.
During Question Time in the Scottish Parliament today, Mr McMillan asked the Justice Secretary what the Scottish Government can do to ensure both the safety of passengers and also the protection of jobs in the taxi trade if these apps are introduced in Scotland.
In his response Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said the Government was “aware of the concerns around the growth of mobile phone apps such as those run by Uber.”
It is understood that Uber are currently applying to operate in Scottish cities.
Commenting Mr McMillan said:
“Despite popular belief, the taxi trade is under real pressures. With fuel prices rising and insurance costs going through the roof, drivers are forking out for huge overheads they need to cover before they start earning a wage.
“Smart phone app booking services, such as Uber, being introduced in Scotland could have a damaging effect on jobs in the industry.
“With the tax arrangements of these companies meaning they often do not pay tax in the UK, they are able to undercut traditional taxi firms putting drivers livelihoods at risk. There is of course the damaging impact on the public purse via this loss in tax, not to mention the loss in large licence fees of drivers to Councils.
“However, more importantly, passenger safety is paramount in this issue as the drivers and cars being used will not be regulated, checked and been through the same strict tests as traditional taxis.
“I am all for new business opportunities and ideas taking off, however, it is fundamentally important that jobs and livelihoods are not at risk, public money is not lost and above all that passenger safety is taken into consideration.”