Sarah Champion MP welcomes Government Commitment to National Minimum Standards for Taxi Drivers

Sarah Champion MP, Member of Parliament for Rotherham has welcomed new measures proposed by the Government to improve passenger safety in taxis and private hire vehicles.

In its response to the Task and Finish Group’s Report on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing, the Government has committed to introducing statutory national minimum standards, alongside other measures, including newly proposed statutory guidance for licencing authorities and the establishment of a national licensing database. A public consultation on new statutory guidance has been launched today.

Sarah has raised concern at existing licensing provisions, in particular with regard to preventing child sexual exploitation, for a number of years. Previous licensing provisions in Rotherham were identified in both the Jay and Casey reports as leaving the public at risk. In response, Rotherham has since introduced stringent new licensing requirements, which are singled out for praise in the proposed new guidance.

 Commenting on the introduction of national minimum standards, Sarah said:

“The introduction of national minimum standards is welcome, but long overdue. The Deregulation Act 2015 has undermined licensing authorities by greatly increasing the ability of drivers to seek licenses from authorities with lower standards. I raised this repeatedly with the Government at the time, but was rebuffed. National minimum standards will go some way to alleviating this problem and provide much-needed reassurance on public safety.”

 Commenting on the need to ensure national minimum standards are robust, Sarah said:

 “I hope that the Government will look at the example of Rotherham in drawing up new minimum standards. Catastrophic mistakes were made in Rotherham, but the Council has learned from them and licensing conditions are now amongst the most stringent in the country. This should be taken as a baseline. If national standards aren’t robust, we risk a race to the bottom.”

 Sarah continued:

 “Passenger safety must be at the forefront of licensing. I hope that the Government will take this opportunity to make much needed improvements and to prevent the mistakes made in Rotherham from ever happening again.”

 ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Government’s response to the Task and Finish Group’s Report on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/775983/taxi-task-and-finish-gov-repsonse.pdf

Consultation on proposed statutory guidance for Licensing Authorities is open from today and runs until 22nd April 2019. The consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-licensing-protecting-users

Alexander Guest