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Council set to raise taxi licensing fees due to increased admin of new six monthly DBS checks

Image credit: West Suffolk Council

Taxi drivers in West Suffolk may see their fees and charges go up for the first time in seven years next April, due to the cost of increased safety checks and administration.

While West Suffolk Council hasn’t put up its taxi fees and charges since 2015-16, there has been a significant increase to the costs associated with the licensing of taxis during this time.

The council says increased workloads and costs are a result of national changes in Government guidance which West Suffolk must follow.

Changes include complying with new HM Revenue and Customs tax conditionality checks introduced in April and Department For Transport guidance which has increased driver DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks from every three years to every six months. All of these are designed to protect the trade from less reputable drivers who could undermine compliant drivers.

The council are keen to state that the priority continues to be to ensure that licence applications are processed in time and appropriate checks can be carried out to protect passenger safety and in so doing to maintain public confidence in the taxi service.

Cllr Andy Drummond, the Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Environment, announced the decision to consult with the trade on the proposed increases. This consultation will not be on whether they like the increases, but on whether they agree that the council has complied with legislative requirements and whether it has used an appropriate approach to setting the fees.

Subject to the consultation and call-in periods during which other councillors can scrutinise decisions, the proposed increase would then be considered by Cabinet later in the year. If agreed, the new charges won’t be introduced until April next year.

Cllr Drummond said: “Passenger safety must continue to be our priority. Much of the national guidance and the increases in checks that we must complete, are all designed first and foremost to protect passenger safety and public confidence in the taxi trade.

“But these checks, and the extra work come with a cost. While my intention is to increase these fees and charges, the council will not be generating any additional income from these –we are not allowed to. Instead, we will aim to deliver a cost neutral service and if there is any surplus over a three-year period, it will be used to directly support the trade.

“At the same time, we recognise that members of the trade have asked us to review passenger fares, which last went up in 2019 and we have confirmed that our licensing committee will look at this in July.

“While any passenger fee increases may come in this year, today’s announcement would not see an increase to the taxi driver fees and charges made until April 2023.”


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