Private hire drivers yet to pass an English speaking, writing or listening test will not have their licences revoked when the new licensing policy is introduced in Autumn 2021, says London trade sources.
From 1 October new licensing policies in the capital based on ‘safety, equality and regulatory obligations’ are also expected to begin.
According to sources, regulators Transport for London (TfL) will use new training modules to confirm whether an applicant is proficient at reading and writing English at the level required.
A further 15-20 minute ‘conversational’ test would follow to assess the would-be driver’s ability to listen to and speak English.
A spokesperson from Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), welcomed the news and said in a statement: “On today’s call (18 August) with Transport for London Taxi & Private Hire, it was confirmed that drivers who have not yet undertaken and passed an English Test, or sent their English language qualifications to TfL, will not have their licences revoked.
“This news follows a 5-year LPHCA campaign, asking for appropriate English Language Testing for TfL TPH licensed PHV Drivers.
“TfL have however asked that if proof of qualifications for exemption, by way of exam certification can be provided, drivers should do so by 30 September, as this would ensure that a future test will not be needed.
“From 1 October we understand that new arrangements will be put in place, which include an assessment on safety, equality and regulatory obligations modules and TfL TPH will use this to confirm an applicant is proficient at reading and writing English at the required level.
“We have been advised that a lower cost 15-20 minute conversational test, will be used to assess an applicant’s ability to listen and speak English at the required level. This will meet the needs of the government’s Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards requirements on English language proficiency for all London Taxi & PHV drivers.
“We are delighted that this pragmatic outcome after nearly 5-years of campaigning brings in a new process that will in our view be far more fit for purpose. We will continue to work closely with TfL TPH to ensure the new testing meets with recommendation 28 of the Task and Finish Groupon Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing recommendations for England and Wales.”
A GMB Union spokesperson said via social media: “GMBs five year campaign for changes to the TFL English Language test has resulted in a new oral & written test module being available from October of this year.
“The trade bodies pushed hard on this.
“TfL & The Mayors office have through our representations now made change for good.”
Earlier this month the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, confirmed new taxi and private hire licensing polices covering ‘safeguarding, equality and regulatory obligations’ would arrive later this year and that industry advanced driving tests and private hire vehicle insurance polices remain under consideration.
The Mayor told City Hall that once Transport for London (TfL) has implemented new taxi and private hire Statutory Standards set by the Government and the industry recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, further consideration will then be given on an advanced driving test and private hire vehicle insurance policies.