It is no secret that local government has had a very tough time of things in recent years. With budgets continually being slashed and councils expected to maintain service standards, it’s no surprise that local authorities are exploring ways of streamlining their processes.
Councils are being restructured and services being amalgamated in a desperate attempt to reduce spend. These changes have had a major impact on the way licensing departments operate, particularly in their approach to Taxi Licensing.
Local authorities work very hard to support local business & economy by guiding businesses/ individuals through complex licensing procedures. Local authorities have to deal with the following areas of licensing:
In the majority of cases, Taxi Licensing takes up a disproportionate amount of the licensing service’s time, in some cases, requiring up to 80% of staff time to manage. The overall aim of all forms of licensing is the safety of the public in the community and to ensure people in positions of trust i.e. taxi drivers, pub owners etc. have been thoroughly vetted to ensure they are “Fit and Proper” to continue their field of work.
Taxi Licensing requires a huge amount of resource due to the large number of taxi drivers in each area, coupled with the complexity of the licensing process. Drivers are often asked to produce criminal record checks, driving licence checks, medical reports and driving test pass certificates as well as passing local area knowledge/skills tests, set by the council. The responsibility for guiding drivers through this complex process falls squarely on the council’s doorstep and it is for this reason that taxi licensing takes up such a large proportion of staff time.
How Other Councils are Combatting This:
In recent years, I have noticed a shift in taxi licensing processes, with an increasing number of councils embracing more modern methods of working. The licensing decision is always going to stay with the council, but many of the administrative functions involved in the taxi licensing process can be facilitated using technology either provided in-house or by a third party. Councils are now using electronic methods for DBS checks, DVLA checks and even licence applications. Increasing numbers of councils are engaging with third party providers to help them facilitate the administration involved in the taxi licensing process.
Some councils have taken it one step further and have partnered with third-party companies, such as Personnel Checks for ID verification services, right to work pre-screens, knowledge testing and renewals notifications to help them streamline their processes and operate on a lower budget.
It is this need that has resulted in a completely new option of handling and managing the taxi licensing process. It allows licensing personnel to focus solely on handling and assessing fully completed licence application, which is the ultimate aim of a Licensing Service.
All of the administration and driver guidance can be carried out by the third party using much more advanced technology than is usually available to a council. They allow for the service to be much more accessible for the driver and speeds up the end-to-end process.
With the continued reduction of local authority funding and the increasing demand being placed upon licensing authorities, I can see more and more councils choosing to go down this route.
Many authorities across the country already use Personnel Checks to streamline their licensing process, cherry picking from our wide range of services to create a bespoke, cost effective package for their team.
How are you combatting the issue of taxi licensing within your council?
For more information on how authorities are using our services and how our specialist licensing professionals can help you, get in touch: