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The Licensed Private Hire Care Association (LPHCA) has called for the Mayor of London to immediately suspend the requirement for private hire drivers to undertake English language tests.

Transport for London (TfL) has introduced a new English language requirement that applies to all applications for private hire driver’s licences received by TfL on, or after, 14 October 2016. This includes applications from existing drivers looking to renew their licence, as well as drivers applying for a new licence.

TfL allows drivers to provide a copy of an exam certificate demonstrating English language proficiency. If they can’t locate one, a driver would need to commence a likely minimum eight-week process to try and get hold of a copy from the AQA., which costs around £100. However, there are no guarantees that a certificate will be produced by the AQA.

Steve Wright MBE, Chairman of the LPHCA commented:

“Some drivers who are unable to locate a copy of an exam certificate deemed acceptable by TfL are being forced to go to a test centre, pay a fee of around £180 to take a test and lose a day’s income while the test is administered. “At the test centre, drivers are allegedly being subjected to degrading checks including looking behind their ears and being asked to turn their pockets inside out.

“It doesn’t matter to TfL if you were born in the UK and have spoken English all of your life. Drivers, some of whom have held a licence in London since licensing began and possibly having worked in the industry for nearly 50 years, are being forced to undertake an English test, which has been described by one driver as ‘humiliating’.

“If TfL cares about the livelihoods of private hire drivers across London and the vital role service that they perform, it needs to act today and suspend these tests as they are not appropriate for many drivers.”

ENDS

Steve Wright is a former member of the Transport for London Board who has worked in the industry as a driver, operator and industry representative since 1971. He can be contact on 07956 329288 or 01442 833483 or LPHCA@btinternet.com