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Will Sadiq Khan take any notice of a London Assembly motion to replace the £180 written English test with a £25 verbal exam?

The London Assembly has passed the motion calling on the mayor of London Sadiq Khan to replace Transport for London’s (TfL’s) English Language Requirement for private hire drivers with a much cheaper verbal one.

Private hire drivers – both existing and new – who currently apply for a TfL licence without an approved English qualification have until 30 September 2017 to take a £180 written essay and speaking test. After this date, applicants without an English language qualification will have to take and pass the test before they can apply for or renew their licence.


Flo Eshalomi

Labour Party assembly member transport spokeswoman Flo Eshalomi, who put forward the verbal test proposal, said:

It is of course vital that cab drivers are able to communicate with passengers in English.

However, £180 cost to take the test is disproportionate, especially when you bear in mind that drivers will soon be required to pass an advanced driving test costing £149. It is time for the mayor to look into other options. We don’t want to see people losing their livelihoods.

HOW HAS THE MAYOR RESPONDED?  Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon, asked Sadiq Khan at Mayor’s Question Time; “Will the mayor reconsider plans to force private hire drivers to sit a written English test and instead make the required test an oral one?”

To which, Mr Khan replied: “I have asked Transport for London to closely monitor the implementation of this requirement and it will be kept under review to ensure that it is proportionate to the responsbilities of private hire drivers.”

The mayor has also agreed to meet with the PHV trade is discuss the matter further.

WHAT DOES THE PRIVATE HIRE TRADE SAY? – PHC asked a number of private hire trade association representatives for their response.

steve-garelick-largeSteve Garelick of the GMB union said:

We are delighted to hear that the mayor has agreed to meet a trade group to find a just solution. Our thanks to all the assembly members who have been working on our behalf.

Steve-WrightSteve Wright of the LPHCA said:

We are pleased that Sadiq Khan will discuss the level of English testing that is appropriate for London PHV drivers, following six months of campaigning and political lobbying.

We look forward to informing the mayor and to him looking into the motivation behind TPH bringing in a test which is expensive, discriminatory and not fit for purpose.

Related article: English test replacement

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