Taxi drivers in West Suffolk are being consulted on proposals to increase their fees and charges by around a THIRD to cover the increased safety checks and administration.
The council has proposed setting the annual taxi vehicle licensing fee at £209, a big £46 rise on the current £163 charged.
Big increases have also been proposed for taxi driver licence fees. An annual combined driver’s fee will jump from £69 to a whopping £174. Drivers can however opt for a three year option which will instead cost £308.
The fees and charges proposed are said to be the result of increased work and costs from the national changes in Government guidance that West Suffolk must follow. This includes new HM Revenue and Customs tax conditionality checks introduced in April and Department for Transport guidance that has increased driver DBS checks from every three years to every six months.
Fees and charges in West Suffolk have not increased since 2015/16. The council say there has now been a significant increase to the costs associated with the licensing of taxis over that time period.
West Suffolk Council has written to drivers and operators inviting feedback. The consultation is not on whether they like the increases, but on whether they agree that the council has complied with legislative requirements and used an appropriate approach to setting the fees.
Subject to this consultation, which will run until 1 August 2022, the proposals will then be considered by Cabinet later in the year. If agreed, the new charges won’t be introduced until April next year.
At the same time, members of the taxi trade have asked for the council to review passenger fares, which last went up in 2019.
The licensing committee will look at this next month and will be able to take the proposed increase to fees and charges into account when making their decision. Any increase to passenger fares may then come into effect later this year.
Cllr Andy Drummond, Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Environment, said: “Much of this national guidance and increased checks that we are required to do, are designed to protect passenger safety and public confidence in the taxi trade. This comes with a cost, however, which is why I am proposing that next April, we increase fees and charges for what will be the first time in seven years.
“The Council will not be generating any additional income from these – we are not allowed to. 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 support the trade.”