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Council creates new financial support package to RECRUIT private hire drivers to cover shortages

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

In a bid to attract new recruits to the trade, St Helens Borough Council has teamed up with local partners to offer a free support package for residents wanting to become a private hire driver.

The support package covers a level 2 qualification in taxi driver training and a number of financial support incentives to help make the journey as smooth as possible.

The dedicated support will cover information and advice around becoming self-employed and there are significant financial contributions, made by the council, that make this a totally free offer, including all costs associated with DBS checks, medical and licence charges – as well as two weeks’ car rental, insurance, two-weeks’ worth of radio hire and the operators’ livery.

The move comes in response to residents and private hire operators telling the council that more drivers are needed to address waiting times customers are currently facing due to driver shortages – an issue experienced right across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors have also told the council that the taxi shortages are having a detrimental impact on the town centre economy and their ability to recruit and retain employees.

As part of its successful ‘Ways to Work’ and the new ‘St Helens Pathway into Employment’ programmes, the council in conjunction with its Licensing team is working with employment and training providers, JobCentre Plus and Genesis Training, to deliver a free and comprehensive pre-self-employment support package leading to a fully accredited taxi driver qualification – with a host of local firms onboard with the initiative ready to take drivers on.

St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Business, Councillor Kate Groucutt, said: “Now that coronavirus measures have been lifted and people are coming back into our town centres to enjoy our bars, restaurants and theatres, the demand for taxis is there more than ever, yet a shortage of drivers is leading to long waits and a lack of availability.

"This project brings together an expert team and a funded package to support you in taking the first steps into a new career. Whether it’s the self-employed lifestyle, working when you want and for how long you want, helping people with their daily needs or for the sheer love of driving, a career as a taxi driver can be a rewarding one.

“As we move into the early phases of our exciting new regeneration projects in St Helens and Earlestown town centres, we are using our Ways to Work service to help local people access jobs, training or apprenticeships. The friendly and experienced team can guide you towards the right opportunity and help you every step of the way."

Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger, Communities, said: “Taxi drivers have been among the many unsung heroes during the coronavirus pandemic, and we thank them for their valuable contribution, as many people in our communities rely on them every day.

“Sometimes the process of becoming a driver in a regulated field can be daunting – that’s why the council’s Ways to Work team and licensing will be directly linking up to deliver a fully supported package that will help you to understand and get the best out of the role.

“Our licensed operators are supporting the scheme and are waiting to welcome you to their business, and you can work flexibly too.”

To be eligible, you must be a St Helens Borough resident aged 18 or older with a UK driving licence for at least one-year.


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