Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:45 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 10:45 am, 5th May 2020

I thank the Member for her question. We have been working very hard across the Executive on the issue of hauliers. I have been working with the Minister for the Economy and the Minister of Agriculture. We engage very regularly with the Department for Transport and the UK Treasury. We are clear that we need to get support to our haulage industry because it has a critical role to play in securing our supply chains, and we will keep up the pressure on that.

On the taxis issue, the Member will be aware that, as Minister for Infrastructure, I have responsibility for regulation. I have put a number of solutions in place. The one that is outstanding is the specialised medical assessment. I am exploring two potential legal options. I hope to be in a position to give confirmation to Members and affected drivers as soon as possible. The challenge is getting a solution that is legally robust while being mindful of the need to ensure road safety for drivers and other road users.

On the issue of financial support for taxis, I am sure that the Member will also be aware that the Department for the Economy is responsible for financial support to those whose livelihoods have been very badly affected by this crisis. I have made representations to the Minister for the Economy, the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Communities on the potential of repurposing of taxi drivers, because I recognise that they are one of the groups that have been really badly hit.

There have been issues with people being able to access and contact the DVA. We launched a single point of contact, the set email address. I am mindful that there are people who are unable to access services online.

I also have a duty to the safety of DVA staff, so we are working hard to see whether we can bring back workers on a safe basis to be able to process those applications and provide services to those who do not have any access to online.