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Plans for a rating scheme for private hire firms

Published: Thursday, 13th July 2017

Private hire firms in Birmingham could be rated in a similar way to food businesses if a new ratings scheme is approved, subject to consultation with the trade.

Cllr Barbara Dring
Cllr Barbara Dring

Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, agreed the scheme in principle yesterday (12 July 2017) which, subject to further consultation with private hire operators could be introduced in the autumn.

Under the proposed scheme, private hire operators would be scored against 47 different criteria on an annual basis.  Like the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, operators’ scores would be published on the city council’s website – www.birmingham.gov.uk – to enable customers to see how they have been rated.

The proposed scheme would apply to all licensed private hire firms in Birmingham, which would receive one of five ratings:

  • Licensed         less than 11 points
  • Bronze            11 to 20 points
  • Silver               21 to 30 points
  • Gold                30 to 45 points
  • Platinum          more than 45 points

Operators would be rated on an annual basis, as part of routine inspections by licensing officers, with one point being awarded for each indicator that is met. 

The criteria, which include 28 essential and 19 bonus indicators, would look at company policies and procedures – including those covering assistance dogs and wheelchair users - and how complaints are handled.

However, operators will be deducted five points if one of their drivers is cautioned or prosecuted for plying for hire. 

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Introducing this ratings scheme would encourage operators to improve their compliance and performance, which should lead to better safety and customer care standards for the public.

“Private hire firms will be deducted points if any of their drivers are caught plying for hire, which should be an incentive for operators to be more accountable for their drivers’ actions.”

Firms that wish to make improvements will be able to apply for a secondary inspection, on payment of fee.

Initial consultation over on these proposals took place in February 2015, and as a result the conditions for private hire operators were reviewed and updated, which were agreed by committee in April 2017.

A final consultation with operators will take place over the summer and responses will be presented to committee in September, with a view to launching the scheme in October 2017.