Updated: May 8
Cross border hiring is a common term used to describe when a taxi is lawfully used for private hire vehicle (PHV) purposes in a district outside where it has been licensed to operate.
This is seen as a problem in many areas because there are disparities in conditions on licences; a prospective driver in one council district may apply to be licensed as a driver in another district because there are lower standards in driver testing, cheaper licence fees or less rigorous/fewer pre-licence checks.
Recently Cardiff’s taxi industry highlighted the over subscription of taxis working in the Welsh capital. There is on average 5.3 taxis and PHVs licensed per 1,000 people living in Cardiff which is one of the highest rates in Wales, but on par with other major UK cities. In neighbouring Newport however the number of taxis and PHVs licensed tops 6.7 per 1,000 people which suggests cross border migration from Newport to Cardiff is pushing numbers past what is required and saturating work levels.
Cardiff Council have now announced that they will work with the local taxi trade and its unions to tackle the ongoing issue of cross border hiring. During a recent Council Committee councillor, Huw Thomas, shared the council’s ‘dissatisfaction’ at the rules which he said ‘underlines all trade activity’.
Using this way of thinking, and looking for taxi and PHV abnormalities per 1,000 people in the authority licensed, you can get a good idea which regions are licensing more than their region can handle.
So where are the THREE anomalies?
According to the latest Department for Transport (DfT) Taxi and PHV Statistics for 2022 there are three Local Authorities way over not just the national average, but miles ahead of the authority sitting in fourth place which happens to be London.
For context the average number of taxis and PHV per 1,000 people currently sits at 3.1 licensed vehicles. This will vary depending on the incoming footfall of any given town or city. For example, a rural authority like Staffordshire Moorlands doesn’t rely on tourism and hosting large events, so services mainly the local community. In fact, as a result, Staffordshire Moorlands sits at the bottom of our list with just 0.7 licensed vehicles per 1,000 people.
On the other hand, a major city like Manchester welcomes many visitors from outside of the city centre and therefore demand is higher than for just those that live there.
The TOP THREE over- subscribed local authorities are…
The first one shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s City of Wolverhampton Council with a whooping 49.5 taxis and PHVs per 1,000 residents. The West Midland’s authority is seen as a perfect licensing spot for drivers looking to work either where they live or where the demand is. Just recently Wolverhampton PHV plates have been spotted working in London where demand for rides are still outweighing supply.
In at number two is Uttlesford District Council with an impressively high 2,008 vehicles licensed in a mainly rural area housing just over 92,000 people. For those that don’t know where Uttlesford is located, it will make perfect sense when you find the authority slap bang in the middle of both Stansted Airport and Cambridge. Uttlesford sits pretty on 21.6 vehicles per 1,000 people, whilst neighbouring authority East Hertfordshire, which covers Stansted Airport, sits on a below average 1.6 vehicles.
In at number three is Sefton Council with 10.6 vehicles per 1,000 residents. Sefton PHVs can regularly be seen working in Liverpool city centre. With over 4,400 vehicles licensed in council district with just 275,000 people in, it's not hard to see why they must look further afield for demand.
What is being done about cross border hiring?
After a long wait and much lobbying, the Government recently closed a 12-week consultation to update vital Taxi and PHV guidance supplied to local authorities to better cope with new digital ways of working following the boom in ride-hailing services.
A raft of new recommendations have been made covering pretty much every hot topic impacting the taxi and PHV sector right now, but interestingly cross border hiring rules were not covered.
However, Local Authorities like Cardiff as already mentioned, and now notably Transport for London (TfL), has urged the Government to ‘address problems caused by cross border hiring’ as part of its response to new taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) guidance proposals.