A TAXI driver says relief funding from the Scottish Government is 'peanuts' when compared with the costs needed to keep his car on the road.

Craig McIver, 49, has been a cabbie for more than 20 years and as he uses his own vehicle, he has to cover a lot of costs himself.

Since the start of the pandemic Craig, from Greenock, says he's benefited from a couple of grants for being self-employed.

But when he found out about the £1,500 taxi and private hire driver support fund he says he was shocked that people thought it was cause for celebration.

He told the Tele that even with the payment he will be left out of pocket.

Craig has to cover his operator's licence and office fees, as well as insurance and tests, alongside any work that needs to be done on the car through the year.

He says that amounts to around £8,000 - without any significant repairs.

The Larkfield man has contacted Stuart McMillan MSP to voice his concerns.

Craig said: "Some of the guys just see the £1,500 figure and think it's great.

"But someone who leases a car and pays £80 for a taxi badge gets the same amount of funding and doesn't have all the same costs to cover.

"It works out at around £4 a day to cover the last 11 months.

"It costs me £5 a day just to wash my taxi.

"I appreciate it's better than nothing at all, but only just."

Over a six-day working week, Craig used to pull in as many as 120 jobs.

Now he's down to around 60 and can go home with as little as £15 or £20 a day.

Craig says there's more competition now as drivers who were working backshift and nightshifts have changed to the day to try to pick up work.

He said: "We're all competing for the same jobs and relying on the supermarkets, hospital, care homes and health centres.

"When you calculate the hourly rate it's shocking.

"I know I'm one of the lucky ones as my wife works but what we get is galling."

Craig says drivers are risking their lives every day taking people to and from jobs - not knowing if passengers are asymptomatic or showing symptoms of coronavirus.

He added: "We're on the frontline and putting ourselves at risk.

"We're helping people get to their vaccination appointments.

"A lot of people rely on us, especially older people who aren't able to go on buses now.

"I like my job, I've been doing it for about 20 years - but this situation is soul destroying."

Mr McMillan said he had been engaging with local taxi drivers and operators during the pandemic and is 'acutely aware' of the issues with the fund.

He wrote to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes in January to express his concerns.

He wants the process to ensure that those most in need of support - full-time taxi drivers - are not rejected due to funds being oversubscribed.

Mr McMillan added: "I want to reassure local operators that I have been listening to their concerns and put these to the Scottish Government in the hope that the fund is either amended, or a fund solely for operators is introduced.

"Once I receive the reply from the Scottish Government, I will be in touch with constituents have raised their concerns with me."