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UBER HAS halted its opposition to a plan by Transport for London (TfL) to bring in a mandatory English Language test for private hire drivers in the capital.

The American cab-despatch app had gone to court in October 2016 when TfL proposed that minicab drivers applying for a licence should have to prove their ability to communicate in English and take tests in basic reading and writing.

english-language-imageTfL said the B1-level test, equal to a British citizenship exam, was necessary for the safety of private hire passengers but Uber argued the standard required was too onerous, would lead to “indirect racial discrimination” and could threaten the livelihoods of 30,000 minicab drivers in London.

Uber lost the first round of its High Court legal action last year and has decided to stop further proceedings after TfL said it would revamp its original plan to make the English test more appropriate to the working life of private hire drivers.

Cynics might also argue that Uber is desperate to have its operator’s licence renewed and is happy to drop its opposition to the English test as proof to TfL that it really is a “fit and proper” private hire company.

Commenting on TfL’s proposal to make the English Language more relevant to the working life of minicab drivers, a spokesman for Uber said: “This is a welcome announcement from TfL. We support raising standards and believe that a new test, focused on situations that drivers encounter in their working life, makes a lot more sense. This means that we will no longer pursue our original appeal.”

A spokesman for TfL said:

Since 14 October 2016, all applicants for a private hire driver’s licence have been required to be able to communicate in English to a comparable B1 standard. We are now looking to introduce an English Language test which is more relevant to the role of a private hire driver, but remains at the level of B1.

“For example, including bespoke material with language and vocabulary that directly relates to the role and responsibilities of a private hire driver.

“The licensing authority believes that the ability to communicate in English at an appropriate level is a crucial element of the high standards of passenger safety and service that Londoners and visitors to the city deserve.”

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