Black cab drivers in Birmingham say they could face 'financial ruin' by earning just '£2-per-day' due to the impending Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charge due to come in to force in June.
The taxi union RMT has warned it is not 'financially viable' for drivers to pay it, and have asked for a one year exemption.
The union says it's due to the impact of the pandemic on trade.
The CAZ charge means drivers using non-compliant vehicles will have to pay £8 a day to enter the city centre when the scheme becomes operational on June 1.
The RMT union has warned that without an exemption from the charge, the majority of Hackney carriage drivers in the city would have to leave the trade and be forced into unemployment.
Buying a new cab that is compliant with the upcoming regulations is not an option for most drivers who are struggling financially, the union says.
Licensed taxi drivers living and working in Birmingham have been offered a £5,000 grant for replacing their vehicle, along with a £1,000 Covid grant from the council.
However, many drivers do not live in the city, despite working there, which means the grant is inaccessible to them.
RMT representative Mozafar Ali said: "We are asking Birmingham council to give Hackney carriage drivers a one-year exemption from the CAZ charge for black cab drivers from 1 June 2021 to 1 June 2022, on the grounds that due to the current climate it is not financially viable for drivers to pay the CAZ charge."The average earnings a day range from £20 to £40. If you take out the fuel, CAZ charge, wear and tear of the vehicle you are most likely left with about £2 in your pocket."
In a statement, Birmingham City Council said:
“From 1 June the owners of vehicles that do not meet the emission standards of the Clean Air Zone may be subject to the daily fee. The fee will only apply once a day, between midnight to midnight, no matter how many times a driver enters the Clean Air Zone during that period.
"The Council is committed to supporting Birmingham’s community of hackney carriage and private hire drivers with £15m of grant funding- to date over 800 drivers have successfully applied to the scheme so that they can update, upgrade or replace their vehicle ahead of the Clean Air Zone on 1 June 2021.
"Separate to this the Council created a Taxi Sector Support Grants Scheme, which was funding provided by the government. This additional £5.2m of funding enabled local authorities to create business support schemes that address local needs created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”