Department for Transport Consultation – Supporting Your Response
by Bill Freeman
In February 2018, the UK Government launched its consultation on the use of section 19 and 22 permits following a change to how it thinks EU Regulation 1071/2009 on PSV operators should be applied in England, Wales and Scotland.
Our team has spent the last month working with our members and supporters to develop resources and guidance to support you to respond to the consultation, which we are launching today. You can find that guidance at the end of this blog
Before that, I wanted to share where I think we are right now and what we need to do in the next month.
Everything that has come up in all the conversations we’ve had comes down to three big issues.
1) Things are still unclear.
Before last summer things seemed clear – we had commonly accepted interpretations of the law that only a handful of detractors weren’t prepared to go along with. We still stand by the principle that being a non-commercial entity means all your services are non-commercial and still want to convince the DfT that they should do the same.
We lost that clarity with the Department for Transports’ letter of 31 July and this uncertainty has had a massively destabilising effect on many charities, their commissioners and their passengers – as much as any actual proposed changes themselves.
We hoped this uncertainty would be short-lived once the consultation came out, but in its current form, the proposed guidance doesn’t provide the much-needed clarity the sector was expecting to see. By parking the question over how Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) applies, the consultation also prolongs the uncertainty for thousands of organisations that don’t have transport as their main activity as well as mainstream community transport operators.
We accept there needs to be room for discretion because every eventuality and permutation cannot be mapped out, but what we have at the moment just throws a blanket of doubt over everything that holders of section and 19 and 22 permits do and could damage far more than the provision of local authority contracts.
The Department’s proposed solutions assume the world to be nice and neat with decisions about licences, money and contracts being simple, linear and sequential. We know the world is more complex and dynamic and we need to show how.
What will help is our sector providing information and examples through the consultation and during DfT events that address the lack of a real-world view in the language and labels they are using and the processes they assume take place when services are commissioned and licences or permits are issued.
2) Outsourcing enforcement to commercial operators is unworkable.
There are no credible means of directly assessing if competition exists that can inform a judgement on whether exemptions from the regulations can be applied. The Department, therefore, has to find a way to infer this through some other means. We think allowing commercial operators to be the arbiters is the completely wrong approach and we have to work as a sector to provide a better more workable solution.
It may be that local authorities are better placed to do this because they at least have public accountability but this won’t solve all the problems we foresee.
3) This is unfair.
By accepting a premise that any transaction in any form makes something commercial, the proposed changes will wipe out many more charities than the Department intended i.e. not just those who compete for contracts. And once the impact of applying the same principles to Driver CPC is realised this will take out even more charities or make many of the things they currently do unviable in the future.
We do not believe this was the intention of the Department for Transport, but it will be the outcome if they do not reconsider their guidance.
The people this is most unfair on is our passengers, especially those who can’t access mainstream services or don’t have cars and rely on community transport. They are rightly alarmed that there seems to be no assessment of how this will impact on their quality of life.
Having taken this action to avoid a day in court with a bully, the UK Government now faces the very real prospect of a legal challenge from some of our most isolated and vulnerable citizens for not having paid sufficient attention to how these reforms will impact on them. We know they care about the same things we do, so this cannot be something they want.
This is not just about transport. It’s about the kind of country we want to live in. Let’s spend the next month working together to show everyone what that looks like
Download our guidance and resources:
Please click the links below to download our resources:
Download CTA’s Guidance Document. This document is intended to support CTA members to respond to the UK Government’s consultation. It explains our take on why the questions are being asked, what we think of the issues they address and suggests the types of information you could use to illustrate the nature and value of your services as well as your views on the proposals.
CTA’s Guidance Document also references the following documents:
Impact flowchart.If you are unsure whether or how the Department’s proposed changes might affect your organisation, you can use this flowchart to aid your understanding.
If you have any questions on any of these resources please email email@example.com
What comes next:
We want to show the Department for Transport how their proposed changes are unclear, unworkable and unfair, and in the coming weeks we’ll be encouraging all CTA members to join in some campaign actions to get their passengers, communities and politicians talking about the impact.
We’ll also be issuing supplementary guidance which explore some of the issues in greater depth, such as impact on local authority commissioning practices.
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