New Government guidance on minicabs to give volunteers and care workers a smoother ride

Published on Wednesday, 03 August 2011 14:04
Posted by Matthew Abbott

Volunteers, childminders and care workers should be freed from the unnecessary and costly process of being licensed as minicabs following guidance published by Transport Minister Norman Baker today (August 3rd).

Changes to the minicab licensing laws in 2006 mean that some councils have been classing people like childminders - who drive children to and from school in their own vehicles, and care workers - who assist elderly people in their homes, as minicab drivers. The new guidance makes it clearer which vehicles the Government believes need minicab licences – and those that do not, removing the burden on Local Authorities of licensing vehicles unnecessarily.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said:

“’Dad’s Taxi’ is often a joke in many families, but we don’t need councils perpetuating the myth!

“Clearly parents helping out at a play group, or carers getting people to the doctor are not minicab drivers. I hope that by publishing this new guidance today these people will be able to get on with their vital activities, without the hassle or cost of getting a minicab licence.

“Councils will also benefit by cutting out unnecessary paperwork which wastes valuable time and money. This is good, common-sense Government.”

Some childminders have ended up doubling up on CRB checks because of the confusion. Other examples include care workers being asked to complete the minicab driver ‘knowledge test’.

Groups the Government considers should be exempt from licensing their vehicle are:

  • Private ambulances, including emergency vehicles and vehicles which operate as part of a formal patient transport service;
  • Volunteers who share their car or provide lifts as part of their voluntary duties;
  • Care and support worker services, including those who care for adults in their own homes, in community settings or in residential or nursing care homes;
  • Childminders who carry children as passengers as part of their duties;
  • Rental car companies and garages offering ‘courtesy lift’ services for customers, for example whilst their car is in for repair.

Colin Angel, Head of Policy and Communication at the UK Homecare Association, said:

“We warmly welcome the Department for Transport guidance. It is an unnecessary burden to ask homecare workers to apply for a minicab licence. We hope that councils will agree that these infrequent trips help elderly and disabled people maintain their independence and quality of life, and are not a cab service.”

 Stuart Turner, Director of Professional Standards at the National Childminding Association, said:

“This guidance will be welcomed by registered childminders, and will help to ensure they are not required to hold a private hire vehicle licence when taking children on the school run or on trips to the park. It's vital that children can access learning and development opportunities out in the community, and this guidance will help to ensure childminders can continue to offer this for children in their care."

The guidance is another important action from the Government’s Plan for Growth, published alongside the Budget in March, aimed at boosting the vital contribution to the economy from the social care system.

Source: Department of Transport

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