Imminent arrival of statutory taxi rules confirmed, but ‘best practice for other matters’ due later

A second Government official confirms imminent arrival of statutory taxi and private hire standards update, but added there will be further ‘best practice guidance for other matters’ later this year.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, asked the Department for Transport via a written question: "To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, when he plans to issue new statutory taxi hire standards."

George Freeman, a Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk and currently the Government’s Minister of State (Department for Transport), responded by saying: “We will shortly be issuing Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Standards to licensing authorities, on protecting passengers and updated best practice guidance for other matters that will follow later this year.”

Nusrat Ghani MP, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary and Government Whip, also made an announcement during a transport topical questions debate in the House of Commons on 30 January confirming its arrival “shortly”.

In November 2019, the Local Government Association (LGA) argued that revamped taxi laws could make enforcement easier through introducing a common set of licensing standards, and be updated to reflect new technology which would help reduce the risk of child sexual exploitation, improve passenger safety, and create a level playing field for drivers by tackling out-of-area working.

The LGA is also calling for national minimum licensing standards for drivers of taxis and PHVs, and a mandatory national database of all licensed taxi and PHV drivers. In order to strengthen licensing processes, the LGA launched its own national register of taxi and PHV licences which have been refused or revoked, so councils can check new applicants against the database and update it with their own information.

But whilst updated statutory guidance for councils around taxi licensing is seen as a positive step, the LGA say that ultimately the best way to strengthen safeguarding measures and ensure a level playing field for all drivers is for government to update taxi laws.

A Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing was established in September 2017. The group's remit was to consider evidence relating to the adequacy of current taxi and private hire vehicle licensing authority powers, as set out in legislation and guidance, and to make recommendations for actions to address any priority issues identified.

The Chair of the group, Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, submitted his report to the Secretary of State for Transport on 9 July 2018.

In February 2019 the Government responded to the report, but there has been little movement since then with some claiming Brexit debates as a reason for the lack of progress made.

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