The Department for Transport has published the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing report and recommendations.
The report makes a total of 34 recommendations. The most notable amongst these are:
- The introduction of legislation to introduce national minimum standards for taxi and PHV licensing. The standards are to be set by “a panel of regulators, passenger safety groups and operator representative”.
- Updating Best Practice Guidance and strengthening the requirement for licensing authorities to adhere to the guidance.
- Unification of licensing authority areas to create “super” councils for the purpose of taxi and private hire licensing.
- The introduction of a statutory definition of both ‘plying for hire’ and ‘pre-booked’ – to include reviewing the use of technology and vehicle ‘clustering’ as well as ensuring taxis retain the sole right to be hailed on streets or at ranks.
- The instruction of licensing requirements to intermediaries between passengers and taxi drivers.
- Councils should be encourages to use their existing powers to make it a condition of licensing that drivers cooperate with requests from authorised compliance officers in other areas.
- The introduction of cross-border powers for council’s to take enforcement action against vehicles not licensed by it.
- The introduction of new legislation requiring that all taxi and PHV journeys should start and/or end within the area for which the driver, vehicle and operator are licensed.
- Legislation to bring pedicabs into the remit of a licensing regime.
- Introduction of mandatory CCTV in taxis and private hire cars.
- Mandatory safeguarding and equality training for all licensed drivers.
- A determination of “fit and proper” should include consideration of issues relating to “low pay and exploitation” and “any evidence of a person or business flouting employment law, and with it the integrity of the National Living Wage”
- An urgent Government review of “the number of hours that taxi and PHV drivers can drive”.
This is the report of the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing. To date, the Government has not responded to the report and as such, these are only recommendations at this stage. It is not likely that the Government will issue a response this side of 2018. There will also inevitably be questions over the legal details and practicalities of some of these recommendations.
Notwithstanding, the recommendations include some interesting proposals. The Task and Finish Group certainly thinks a curb on the practise of cross-border hiring is necessary but it remains to be seen if the Government will be supportive of this approach.
There has been a lot of conversation about driver working conditions. The proposal to include this as part of “fit and proper” considerations will be welcomed by the trade, particularly the private hire sector who have been lobbying TfL and the Government to address this.