18th November 2015

How the Deregulation Act 2015 affects taxi licensing

Back in July, amendments to the Deregulation Act 2015 looked set to introduce a couple of small changes in the legislation of taxi licensing. Now in effect, as of 1 October 2015, we take a look at what’s different and keep you informed so you’re always up to speed.

3-year licences

Starting from October, licences for Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are issued for periods of 36 months instead of 12. Not only does this mean paying a greater cost for a longer licence upfront, but the overall relative cost is set to rise too.

It’s still possible for councils to issue licences for shorter periods, for example annually, but only on a case-by-case basis and if the council has good reason to do so. This measure mainly just applies for drivers with 12-month DVLA licences due to medical reasons.

Sub-contracting between operators

Particularly in areas close to council borders, we’ll likely be seeing more sub-contracting to other taxi operators under the revised legislation. This means that a customer booking with the operator of their choice may end up with a driver from a different operator registered in a totally different location.

The Deregulation Act essentially allows private hire vehicles to operate across the whole of England and Wales. It’s quite possible that, not only can drivers be sub-contracted across neighbouring areas, drivers from further afield can be brought in for certain bookings.

Criticisms

Several local committees for taxi and private hire licensing have expressed concerns over the new rules coming into force. In particular, fears over public safety have arisen due to the restricted powers that local council enforcement officers may have over carrying out spot checks on vehicles licensed elsewhere.

Further to this, the increased duration and costing associated with taxi licences has sparked fears that some drivers may be forced out of the trade. Meanwhile, any potential new drivers may be deterred from it altogether. On top of this, operator licences are to be issued for 5-year periods, meaning that firms and drivers will be required to pay significantly more upfront.

With the legislation now in place, drivers and firms will start to see those changes being slowly implemented over the coming months. It’s difficult to say how much of an impact this will have overall, but it does take the private hire industry one step further in regards to deregulation.

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