In this article we take a look at what can be learned from the member survey carried out by The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA). As one of the largest industry trade bodies, they have over 20,000 associated drivers across their 270+ members organisations.
Traditional taxi work disappeared
Over 75% of those surveyed said that they had managed to continue trading under coronavirus restrictions. With the closure of the hospitality sector, tourist hotspots and much of the night-time economy it’s perhaps surprising to hear this. Bigger jobs like airport runs have all but stopped and some operators have reported booking losses up to £15,000.
While it is good news that so many have been able to carry on working, the volume and types of work have drastically reduced. The primary work for most drivers at the moment is:
- Transport to hospitals & medical practices
- Transporting key workers (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.)
- Supermarket runs
- Contract work for schools and special needs centres.
Drivers being utilised for delivery work has also seen a spike. Delivering food for takeaways, supermarkets, as well as critical equipment for key services.
Healthcare-related deliveries also saw an increase. Drivers have been regularly relied upon by the elderly and disabled to deliver their prescriptions and medicines. They have also been vital for providing these groups with a flexible transport service for medical appointments.
Traditional taxi work may have disappeared but the work that has continued serves to highlight just how essential the industry is in supporting the provision of key services.
Remote working is here to stay
The survey revealed that only 32.4% of the LPHCA members were taking calls remotely, pre-pandemic. However, nearly 71% thought it was good practice to adopt flexible remote-working practices for the near future.
Member feedback states that they feel it is an inclusive practice. It would allow working parents more flexibility and those with disabilities better access to work. Under current restrictions, which seem likely to stay in some form until at least 2021. But, remote working doesn’t suit everybody, many respondents felt that a central office was essential to the service they provide.
The important thing to note is that there is no consensus amongst licensing authorities. Some are happy for business to operate their calls remotely, some authorities state that calls must be taken on the licenced premises. As working from home restrictions are reduced, it’s best to liaise with your local authority before making any permanent changes.
Driver numbers have dropped significantly
The furlough scheme has been key in ensuring the UK economy stays afloat. It’s no surprise that the private hire industry has taken advantage of this. 77.1% of those surveyed had been able to take advantage of the furlough scheme. Unfortunately, this scheme can’t fully account for the huge drop in business.
80% of respondents had to ‘lay off’ staff to manage the lack of custom. This is causing problems now restrictions are being reduced. LPHCA members have now reported that they are struggling to cover the volume of jobs. This is compounded for operators with large fleets as maintenance and running costs haven’t disappeared despite the down-turn in business.
The industry needs time to recover
The final part of the LPCHA survey covered members opinion on proposed changes to the industry. The overwhelming response is that there needs to be a buffer period allowing the industry time to recover. They believe that all of the following changes should be suspended:
- Pending PHV and taxi policy changes (91.2%)
- Pending air quality requirements (90.9%)
- Pending new vehicle requirements (84.8%)
- Pending CCTV Requirements (72.7%)
The general response was that operators should be allowed a period of time to get back on their feet before any changes are made to regulations. Most of those surveyed agreed with these changes but felt they should be suspended only in the short term whilst they have time to recover.
At present, the new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards come into effect in January 2021. There doesn’t seem to be any news of this being deferred to a later date so familiarising yourself with the key points is essential.
For more information about the LPHCA and the great work they do, you can find out more here. For more information about how TaxiPlus' solutions help the industry, you can find out more at taxiplus.co.uk! Or get in touch by email on email@example.com