Hardship fund and licensing update

Taxi and hire car licence holders who intend to apply for the $50 million hardship component of the Fairness Fund announced by Government on 23 August can now register their interest in applying for assistance.

Disclaimer: Please note this article was prepared shortly following the Government's reform announcement in August. Please check more recent articles for up to date information on the reforms. 

$50m fairness fund

We have now had it confirmed in writing from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website that, contrary to advice we had previously been given, the $50 million hardship component of the Fairness Fund announced by Government on 23 August is additional support that is available to licence holders, on top of the schedule of assistance payments.

The Hardship Fund will provide additional targeted assistance for licence holders who are facing significant financial hardship as a result of the reforms.

Regarding the assistance payments, in most cases these will be made available to licence holders as a series of instalments over 8 years. There will however be scope for some licence holders to receive some or all of their assistance payments early.

The information below is drawn from a page on the Department's website.

From Monday 5 September, taxi and hire car licence holders who intend to apply to the Fund can register their interest in applying for assistance.  The formal application process for the Hardship Fund will commence in November 2016.

Expressions of interest
Expressions of interest should be sent to Taxiandhirecarsupport@ecodev.vic.gov.au. The email should include the licence holder's name and a preferred method of contact (e.g. email address or phone number).

A range of documents will be required in support of an application to a Hardship Fund. This is likely to include evidence of:

  • identity
  • licence ownership (including licence number, per cent ownership at date of purchase, date acquired, acquisition price, and finance outstanding)
  • significant financial hardship (for example, overdue bills, mortgage arrears notices, bank statements etc.)
  • income and\
  • assets.

To get ready for the formal application process, licence holders are encouraged to begin compiling this documentation now.

Getting support
A dedicated phone support line has been established for immediate inquiries about the Fund.

Phone support line: 1800 875 122.

The government has engaged Westjustice (contact details below) to assist licence holders who may require help with the Hardship Fund application process.  Their contact details can be found here.

Existing $4m hardship fund
The VTA understands all applicants to the existing $4m hardship fund have now been notified of the outcome of their application.

Rebates to annual and peak service licence holders
Information released by Government at the time of the announcement noted rebates would be available to operators currently operating licences leased by Government.  The Department’s website has also been updated with further details.

Renewals of existing licences
Existing annual fee paying licence holders (including peak service licence holders and fixed term licence holders who pay an annual instalment) with annual licence fee renewal payments due from 1 July 2016 onwards will be provided with a rebate for the license fee over the transition period.

  • If a licence holder has already paid their annual fee since 1 July 2016, they will be contacted by the Taxi Services Commission shortly and a rebate will be arranged.
  • If a licence holder has received a renewal notice but has not yet paid the renewal fee, an updated notice will be provided shortly which provides the rebate.
  • If a licence is due to be renewed during the transition period, licence holders will receive an invoice reflecting the application of the rebate when the licence is due to be renewed.

New annual licences
If a licence holder has purchased a new annual licence between 1 July 2016 and 23 August 2016, a rebate will also be made available to the licence holder for this licence. The rebate does not apply to the licence application fee. The licence holder will also be eligible for a rebate when the licence is due to be renewed.

New annual Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) licences will also be available for an administrative application fee only throughout the transition period. This is a specific measure to help maintain the supply of WATs in the short term.

Rebates do not apply to administrative fees associated with licence renewal. These payments will still need to be made to the Taxi Services Commission to ensure the licence remains valid.

There is no limitation on the number of licences a licence holder can receive these rebates for.

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