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It is unacceptable that the government is doing nothing to stop Uber from destroying the licensed London Taxi trade, a national icon.
It has been reported in the press that Uber despite being a US$50bn US headquartered company and generating a lot of business in the UK pays less tax than just 4 individual London taxi drivers. I understand from an interview George Galloway did with Steve McNamara (General Secretary of the LTDA) that Uber has a company in the Netherlands where it benefits from lower tax rates. There are various OECD initiatives looking at similar tax structures of companies and understand that the UK has recently adopted new tax laws addressing them. It is difficult to understand why the government is so supportive of a company which is taking away business from lifelong UK tax payers when it hardly pays any tax in the UK.
Tfl which sets London Taxi fares argue that Uber is encouraging competition and giving consumers choice but this is at the expense of putting at risk the livelihood and eventual employment status of 25,000+ men and women who are licensed London Taxi Drivers. it is not only the drivers who are being affected but the manufacturers of London Taxis, mechanics, call centre staff and 'knowledge' trainers etc.
Tfl set licensed London Taxi fares high. Uber is aggressive with its strategy. It is offering extremely low prices, a 'race to the bottom '. This, unless stopped will leave Licensed Taxi Drivers unable to compete on price. Price is something which Licensed Taxi Drivers are unable to control. Unfortunately, as things stand, there is an obvious outcome- Uber will price so low until it is the only provider on the market. At that stage, it will be almost certain that Uber will increase its prices.
The Licensed London Taxi trade also supports the concept of Social Mobility. It is a qualification which many men and increasingly women from working class backgrounds go into.
The taxi drivers are hard working, have passed the 'knowledge' which requires high levels of skill, memory, dedication and commitment. The Licensed London Taxi trade provides good role models to future generations that perhaps without academic qualifications you can work hard to have a solid and previously secure lifelong profession. This opportunity for Social Mobility for Taxi Drivers and their families is being taken away by completely unfair competition.
The safety of London Uber customers seems to be a low priority of Tfl. Firstly, Licensed London Taxi Drivers are required to have an insurance policy (Hire and Reward) which covers passengers in the unlikely event of any accidents. Uber drivers are not currently subject to the same insurance requirements which is unsafe and irresponsible. They are merely required to have Third Party Fire and Theft policies in order to get passed as a licensed mini cab driver by Tfl. Such insurance only covers the third party and this lack of insurance protection allowed by Tfl is not in the best interests of the public.
Secondly it has been reported that Tfl are not keeping the public informed of the sexual attacks which are purportedly being carried out by mini cab drivers. By not sharing this information it is not allowing the public to make an informed choice about their transport options.
Finally, does it seem right that the head of our government is associated with senior Uber staff, given the involvement of the government in the support of Uber?
What do you propose to do to support the licensed London Taxi drivers?