Safe­guards put coun­cil staff ‘un­der the cosh’

Im­mi­gra­tion: Home Of­fice rules force councils to en­sure taxi and pri­vate hire driv­ers can work in UK

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Graeme stra­chan

The Home Of­fice has de­fended “il­le­gal im­mi­grant” taxi trade “safe­guards” that are putting An­gus li­cens­ing staff un­der the cosh.

The change in the leg­is­la­tion has re­sulted in ad­di­tional work and the im­pact on staff is be­ing mon­i­tored by An­gus Coun­cil.

There has also been an im­pact in Perth where the coun­cil has put aside one day per week solely for meet­ings with taxi/pri­vate hire li­cence ap­pli­cants.

Since De­cem­ber 2016 any taxi or pri­vate hire car driver li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion or re­newal has to be checked to see if the per­son has the right to work in the UK.

The re­quire­ment was ex­tended to taxi and pri­vate hire car book­ing of­fice li­cences from Jan­uary 22.

A Home Of­fice spokes­woman said it was a ”sen­si­ble pre­cau­tion” to in­tro­duce the im­mi­gra­tion safe­guards to the taxi and pri­vate ve­hi­cle hire sec­tor.

She said: “We will do ev­ery­thing in our power to re­move peo­ple who do not have the right to live and work in the UK.

“We are com­mit­ted to crack­ing down on abuse and build­ing an im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem which works in the best in­ter­ests of the coun­try.

“These pro­vi­sions are part of a pack­age of mea­sures brought in to tackle il­le­gal work­ing, and are con­sis­tent with others in the Act, such as prevent­ing il­le­gal mi­grants from re­tain­ing a UK driv­ing li­cence, in­tro­duc­ing a crim­i­nal of­fence of driv­ing whilst il­le­gally in the UK and new pow­ers to seize the ve­hi­cles of il­le­gal mi­grants.”

An­gus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey said: “It would seem strange to me that if the in­creased work­load for councils stem­ming from this Act was iden­ti­fied dur­ing the pas­sage of the Bill, councils col­lec­tively weren’t sighted on this and mak­ing their voice heard at that stage.

“What­ever tran­spired at the time though it is hard not to sym­pa­thise with An­gus Coun­cil staff who are faced with hav­ing to take on an en­hanced work­load in this area.”

A spokesman for An­gus Coun­cil said: “Only those whose right to re­side and work in the UK is time limited will need a fol­low up meet­ing to en­sure that these rights have been ex­tended.

“In De­cem­ber 2016 it was es­ti­mated that this would ap­ply to 124 re­newals and 70 new grants in 2017.

“The change in the leg­is­la­tion has re­sulted in ad­di­tional work for the li­cens­ing team within the coun­cil.”

Dundee City Coun­cil said the ex­er­cise was car­ried out with­out any ma­jor is­sues while Fife said it has cre­ated ex­tra work but not to the ex­tent that An­gus Coun­cil are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

A spokes­woman for Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil said: “Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil’s Li­cens­ing Team have, as a re­sult of the changes in na­tional leg­is­la­tion, set aside one day per week solely for meet­ings with taxi/pri­vate hire li­cence ap­pli­cants.”

gstra­chan@the­courier.co.uk

“…it is hard not to sym­pa­thise with An­gus Coun­cil staff who are faced with hav­ing to take on an en­hanced work­load in this area. GRAEME DEY MSP

Pic­ture: Paul Reid.

The Home Of­fice has de­fended the re­quire­ment on councils to en­sure taxi driv­ers have the right to work in the United King­dom.

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