News from B&NES Labour Group
13 July, 2017
Uber – Council agrees to further report following concerns expressed by Government
Following a Parliamentary debate on working practices in the private hire industry, B&NES Council has agreed to look again at issues relating to Uber in light of any new advice and guidance from Government.
During the House of Commons debate, Frank Field (Labour MP for Birkenhead) expressed concerns about the way in which drivers’ wages are forced down as a result of low fares, high rates of commission, the cost of renting a vehicle that meets Uber’s strict requirements and the cost of maintaining and fuelling those vehicles alongside a suggestions that licences are being granted without minimum conditions being met.
Responding to those concerns, the Transport Minister (John Hayes) promised to set up a Working Party to look at the specific things raised in the debate and also to look at the guidance issued to local authorities who may be unaware of the extent of their powers and their ability to use these powers.
Cllr Joe Rayment (Labour, Twerton) said “The problem with some of these organisations is that whilst they may appear to provide benefits to the customer in terms of convenience and conditions, there are widespread concern about questionable working practices. Evidence suggests that wages have been forced to the floor while the way in which these companies organise themselves means that they often do not pay their fair share of VAT, national insurance or income tax.
“In a report to Council we were essentially told that we weren’t able to consider a company’s employment practices when deciding whether to issue a Private Hire Operators Licence and that we had no power to revoke Uber’s Private Hire Operator’s Licence. The Government, however, has now committed to examining the working practices of the Private Hire industry and has pledged to issue new advice to local government to ensure they are using their powers.
“I’m very pleased that Council agreed to support my proposal for a further report in light of this new Government commitment. My hope is that this new guidance will confirm that we do have the power to act in response to widespread concerns about the way in which these organisations operate, including, if appropriate, revoking licences if it we find a company is not meeting minimum conditions”.
A transcript of the Parliamentary debate can be found here:http://hansard.parliament.uk/…/WorkingConditionsInThePrivat…