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Collective efforts responding to government consultation for Taxi and PHV supported by Local MP

Social Science research submitted to a Department for Transport Consultation on Taxi’s and Private Hire Vehicles regulation after a fruitful discussion with local authorities and licensing officials.

Taxi Driver

Nottingham Civic Exchange (NCE) remains committed to the ethos of the Good Work Nottingham programme to design work that makes people healthy and happy.  We continue to engage with communities and practitioners to bring their voices into policy by creating opportunities to connect academic research with the practice and political sphere. In response to the Department for Transport consultation Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle best practice guidance, NCE organised a consultation event bringing together local authority and licensing officials from more than ten councils nationally. Local MP and former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and Chair of the Transport Select Committee Lilian Greenwood opened the event with a speech emphasising on the importance of insuring that the transport sector work for the consumer and drivers. The event was led by Dr. Tom Vickers, senior lecturer at the Social and Political Science Department who shared his research findings and opened up a discussion around how the needs of workers could be integrated into future regulations and policy to ensure drivers are brought into the debate.

The event highlighted the value of Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) for effective functioning of the transport sector. Taxis and PHVs are a lifeline for many groups in society but especially those with disabilities, young women and people who engage with the UKs night-time economy.

The event discussed the issues being overlooked by the Department for Transport consultation:

  1. Private hire and taxi driving is a skilled professional role and should be recognised as such.
  2. Drivers’ working conditions and economic security matter.
  3. Operators share responsibility for drivers’ working conditions and economic security.
  4. The current regulatory framework needs urgent review.

Why bring in the drivers?

Simply, regulators should protect and support those they are regulating the sector for and with. The guidance proposed by the consultation focuses on passenger and vehicle safety which are valuable in their own right, but the legislation currently neglects the drivers’ rights and their economic security. This sector demands a diverse skillset from drivers, however investing in skills development is challenging as the insecure working conditions, constant increase of the cost of living as well as the inflexible and prolonged pay increase policies are pushing drivers out of the profession.  The precarious nature of working as Taxi and PHV driver increases insecurity for drivers as well as creates challenges for the licensing practitioners as it has an implication on how drivers are seen by society and themselves. The operators’ business model of drivers’ surplus to supply demand creates a competitive environment that prioritises operators over drivers. The rise of different tier drivers based on the variety of ways operators function (mobility apps vs traditional bookings) widens the level of insecurity and impacts the quality of service. The shortage of drivers is persistent and impacting negatively of the consumer’s experience through surcharge by the uncapped prices for passenger on mobility apps, and the long waiting time for capped price traditionally operated Taxis and PHVs.

How to bring in the drivers?

Drivers’ livelihood in the sector matter and the collective effort in this event aims to ensure their voice is considered. The group emphasised on the importance of additional regulation to hold operator accountable for insuring the standards, quality, and safety within the Taxi and PHV sector for passengers and drivers equally. The fragile nature of drivers’ work in the Taxi and PHV sector will continue to contribute to the shortage of drivers and effect the service quality, an investment in the livelihood of drivers is an investment in a better quality transport sector for all.

What happens next?

Our aim is for the consultation event and submission to be a step forward to achieve better conditions for drivers and workers everywhere. Dr Tom Vickers and NCE will remain committed to continuing the debate on Good Work , by engaging with policy makers, local authorities, drivers, operators, and communities, we can explore ways to improve the conditions for drivers and the quality of the Taxi and PHV service.

Nottingham Civic Exchange

Nottingham Civic Exchange has been established by Nottingham Trent University to maximise research, policy and practical impact by bringing together university expertise with partners seeking to address the needs of communities. Nottingham Civic Exchange acts as a resource to look at social and economic issues in new ways. This means facilitating debate, acting as a bridge between research and policy debates, and developing practical projects at a local, city and regional level.

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