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