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TfL push back private hire English language tests

Following pressure from private hire representatives Transport for London and Sadiq Khan has suspended the requirement for private hire drivers to undertake English language tests. The new requirement was due to commence in July 2018, but has now been pushed back to April 2019 after talks between the Licensed Private Hire Car Association and Mayor Sadiq Khan this week.  Officials from TfL also listened to the British Dyslexia Association, who were concerned that some minicab drivers would struggle to pass the new test.  Transport for London introduced the new English language requirement which applies to all applications for private hire driver’s licences received by the regulator on, or after, 14 October 2016. This included applications from existing drivers looking to renew their licence, as well as drivers applying for a new licence.

TfL did allow drivers to provide a copy of an exam certificate demonstrating English language proficiency. Otherwise, the drivers had to complete a £180 written and oral English exam to gain their licence.

Steve Wright MBE, Chairman of the LPHCA said recently: “Some drivers who are unable to locate a copy of an exam certificate deemed acceptable by TfL are being forced to go to a test centre, pay a fee of around £180 to take a test and lose a day’s income while the test is administered.

“One driver has reported being subjected to a series of degrading security checks including looking behind his ears and being asked to turn his pockets inside out. 

“It doesn’t matter to TfL if you were born in the UK and have spoken English all of your life. Drivers, some of whom have held a licence in London since licensing began and possibly having worked in the industry for nearly 50 years, are being forced to undertake an English test.

“If TfL cares about the livelihoods of private hire drivers across London and the vital service that they perform, it must act today and suspend these tests.” 

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