The Department for Transport is to consult on a proposed updated version of its taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) best practice guidance.
The DfT first issued best practice guidance to licensing authorities in 2006 and this was refreshed in 2010.
The consultation, which can be viewed here, will run for 12 weeks until 23:45 on 20 June 2022.
Writing in the foreword, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the DfT, said: “The adoption of new technology by the sector and, most significantly, by the public has resulted in a much-changed sector since the Department for Transport last refreshed its Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing: best practice in 2010.
“The biggest change is the ease with which passengers are able to engage services – using an app on a mobile phone, for example, was something unimaginable in 2010.
“The increase in services has fuelled increases in the number of drivers in the sector, making a fundamental change to the way the industry works and how these services are delivered.”
The minister said a further challenge was the transition to zero emission vehicles to mitigate the impact of travel on air quality and climate change.
Baroness Vere said: “Licensing authority polices should reflect the lead and assistance that government is providing in these areas. It is important they provide the certainty the sector needs so that it is able to plan ahead and invest.
She claimed that the benefits of zero emission vehicles “could be transformative for the taxi and private hire vehicle industry”.
The minister said a constant message she heard from stakeholders was the need for consistency in standards across licensing authorities.
"I know that in respect of safeguarding issues, which are covered by the government’s Statutory taxi and private hire vehicle standards, there was a great consensus around what those standards should be,” she said.
“I am aware that this is not necessarily the case in respect of some of the issues covered in the best practice guidance. I appreciate that with over 270 licensing authorities in England there are going to be significant variations and, because of this, the recommendations are unlikely to be welcomed by all, but I am keen that we try and reach a consensus where possible.”
Baroness Vere said the Government’s commitment to introduce legislation, when parliamentary time allows, to enable the setting of national minimum licensing standards remained
“The measures in the final version of the best practice guidance, and the statutory taxi and private hire vehicle standards issued in 2020, are likely to be the starting point when setting any such future legislation,” she said.
The minister added: “The importance of licensing authorities to the safety of the public and the effective functioning of the sector cannot be downplayed, and the intention of the guidance is to help licensing authorities in carrying out this important job.
“We have a shared vision for a safe and thriving sector and it is key that this is at the heart of the policies of licensing authorities that regulate the sector.”