Drivers sent back to language school

Private hire drivers in London are up in arms after a new rule means they could have to spend £180 to prove they can speak English.

Transport for London (TfL) says that unless drivers can prove they have an English GCSE, they will have to undergo a day-long language test at their recommended provider, Trinity College London.

Each test will cost £180, and with about 110,000 private hire drivers in London that could add up to a £19.8m windfall for the private company.

Steve Garelick, professional drivers’ secretary of the GMB union, said, ‘Not only are these tests unnecessary and demeaning, they will shovel huge sums of money into a private college’s coffers thanks to a virtual monopoly.

‘Our member work hard for their cash – why should they have to stump up £180 to prove they can speak what, in many cases, is the language they’ve spoken all their lives. We completely accept drivers need good verbal communication skills – but do they really need an expensive written exam to boot? TfL really need to rethink this ridiculous requirement before it’s too late.’