Campaign to Challenge the DfT’s Proposed Changes to s19 and s22 Legislation

Important Message to all UK operators of s19 and s22 minibuses


“If enforced – would have a catastrophic impact on the CT sector.”
We are a collective of UK Community Transport operators who are greatly concerned by the implications of DfT’s letter to the sector on 31st July. We feel that the implications of the letter – if enforced – would have a catastrophic impact on the CT sector and its ability to provide essential transport to the individuals and communities that we serve.

“We invite you to join us.”
We have launched a campaign to challenge this proposal and we invite you to join us. At this moment the CT sector needs to use a unified voice and harness a collective energy to make the necessary impact to ensure that we can continue to provide our vital services. It is our belief that instead of what is proposed, a more holistic and fully sympathetic review of the permit system is needed. We should explore all possible legal means of challenging the DfT’s intended approach.

Our outline strategy is broadly to:
Raise awareness at political level
And argue our case to the key powers – there is too little understanding of what we do and how we do it;

Obtain an expert legal opinion
As to whether in fact DfT is either required or able to enforce the new regulatory approach – this is a complex matter to unravel;

Provide a platform for problems and issues
To be aired, and mutual support to be provided – we should not feel alone at this time, this issue affects all operators of s19 and s22 vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats, and for whom transport is their primary purpose.

“We do not believe that the CTA is able to provide the necessary impetus and detachment needed for this task”
We are aware of the role and activities of the Community Transport Association (CTA) on this issue, and we support their work. Many of us are long-standing members of CTA. However, we do not believe that the CTA is able to provide the necessary impetus and detachment needed for this task because of their close links with and funding from DfT. CTA’s stated position is that it is “prepared to call on the charities and community groups…to not resist these changes” and instead propose to lobby for help for CTs to change to a full PSV operating model. We feel it is premature and defeatist to follow CTA’s stance at this stage. Nonetheless, we propose to work in parallel with CTA and to closely liaise with them.

We held an initial meeting on 17 August to discuss the need for a Campaign to resist the proposals. A number of significant CT operators agreed to form a steering group to establish the Campaign along the above lines. We are now seeking wider support and funding to develop this Campaign. We have engaged the TAS Partnership Ltd to provide practical facilitation, policy advice and to obtain an initial expert legal opinion.

Please let us know via the campaign page if you are interested in receiving further information and/or joining the fight.
Alternatively if you would prefer to receive non-digital communications, please contact Sarah Huntley on 01772 204988, or email to info@ctpermits.org
Please circulate this message to any other community transport or minibus operator who you think is affected by this issue. Please also copy us into any emails that you send.

Please join with us on this important journey – we need to act NOW!

For further details or discussion, please Contact Us

To support the campaign, please take a few moments to answer the two questions below, thank you.

Frequently Asked Questions
Why mount a campaign?
Because the Department for Transport (DfT) has proposed to apply restrictions on s19 and s22 permit use that will fundamentally affect the way CTs have been able to operate since 1977. The proposal will have a seriously damaging impact on many core CT services (not just contract provision for local authorities). We believe that DfT must be challenged and persuaded to take a different approach that adequately reflects the vital service the CT sector provides to society. We are advised the DfT proposals should be challenged.
Who is mounting the campaign?
The campaign is a collective voice of a number of CT operators who have decided to join together to address this issue. We welcome the support and participation of any CT that is concerned for the future of the sector, or anyone else that is sympathetic to the work of the CT sector. Support and participation has been forthcoming from all parts of the UK, and from different kinds of CT operators large and small. The TAS Partnership has been engaged by the campaign to provided technical and legal support.
How did the campaign come about?
When the DfT’s letter appeared on 31st July, many CTs felt a need to share their concerns and join forces. Many CTs contacted John Taylor at TAS Partnership to obtain an expert view of the implications of what was being proposed. It was clearly opportune for CTs from all over the UK to get together to face this common challenge. An initial meeting was called on 17th August to discuss a way forward. We then contacted as many CT operators as we could identify to invite them to join the campaign.
What are the objectives of the campaign?

We have two requests: (1) that DfT should undertake a full-scale review of the regulation of and sustainability of the community transport sector. We acknowledge that after 40 years the regulations do need comprehensive review. However, this should be done broadly, so that any changes are designed to achieve improvements in social value, safety, capacity and quality, not the current perverse impact; and (2) that until this review is complete, the DfT should make it clear publicly that it will not support any actions that disturb the settled licensing arrangements for the community transport sector.

How is the campaign being managed?
At the meeting on 17th August, a number of CT operators were prepared to form a steering group to manage the campaign. The group has held meetings each week since then to formulate a strategy and implement various actions for the campaign. The speed at which we needed to react has meant that we have been practical and action-focussed. The campaign is unfolding quickly and we need to be flexible and pragmatic.
Are the Community Transport Association (CTA) involved in the campaign?
The CTA have not formally aligned themselves with the campaign at this stage. However, we have been in communication with CTA from the start and CTA representatives were present at our initial meeting on 17th August. We feel that our campaign is complementary to any similar work that CTA is undertaking or planning. Since CTA is in part funded by DfT, we think that its ability to take legal action against the department is potentially compromised. Our campaign has the advantage of no such constraining factors.
How significant is the threat?
We estimate that at least 1,000 community transport groups will be affected operating, between them, some 6,000 minibuses and delivering some 40 million passenger trips a year. The community benefits from the input of 25,000 volunteer drivers, some driving regularly and some occasionally, but between them donating at least 10 million hours of their time every year.
Our CT only operates a Dial-a-Ride and Group Hire service. Doesn't the new directive only apply to contract provision that is tendered for competitively, such as home to school / SEN transport?

No, the implication of the DfT letter is that any minibus service that uses s19 or s22 and which is supported by a grant or contract will be prohibited, or which operates for hire or reward i.e. anything other than a token payment. The only s19 use that would be permitted would be for organisations whose primary purpose is not transport, or those who are making only a nominal charge for usage. This would affect all s19 and s22 minibus services that are currently sustained by some kind of local authority or public sector financial support and which are charging a fare or hire charge designed to cover a portion of running costs.

We run a car scheme using s19 permits? Does the directive apply to us?
Not directly, as the directive applies only to s19 use by vehicles with 9 passenger capacity or more.
The DfT letter does not mention changes to the 10b permit system in Northern Ireland - is this also threatened?
Although s10b permits have not been specifically mentioned by DfT, any restrictions placed on s19 permit use will be equally applied to s10b permits in NI.
The DfT has planned a consultation on this matter this Autumn - should we not just have our say at this point?
The DfT is planning a consultation on the implementation of the new initiatives as outlined in the letter. Part of our campaign is to press for a wider and more fundamental consultation that aims to preserve the most beneficial aspects of our current operations. The planned DfT consultation does not have this wider scope.
Is the campaign lobbying to retain s19 and s22 permits in their current form?
Only as a short-term measure. We believe that a full review of the s19 and s22 system is necessary. Such a review needs to take a holistic, clean-sheet approach to CT, the value it brings to communities and how it should be funded, and not be driven by legal technicalities or as a reaction to pressure from a small group of commercial operators.
How can we continue to operate minibus services if the new proposals are enforced?
The basic options would be to either convert to a full PSV operation or to continue to use s19 permits with smaller vehicles (no more than 8 passenger seats).
All our minibus drivers are volunteers. Will the proposals still affect us?

Yes, the proposals would apply to all drivers, paid or unpaid.

We are a CT that already has a PSV 'O' Licence - why should we support this?

It is true that some of the more developed CT operators already have PSV ‘O’ licences and could accommodate the changes more readily. However, the UK CT sector is a whole ‘grass routes’ network that encompasses big operators such as Hackney CT through to very small village car schemes. Each responds to a different need in the community in its own way. The vast majority of CT operators would not be willing or able to convert to a full PSV operation. Therefore the whole complexion of CT would drastically change and the needs of many thousands of people would be neglected. The inevitable result, even for those who can make the changes, will be a significant reduction in the scale and scope of operations.

Secondly, the DfT has made clear its view that under the proposals, the same organisation cannot hold a PSV O licence and s19 or s22 Permits. This means that operators with an O Licence will need to give up their Permits altogether.

What is involved in becoming a full PSV operator?

In simple terms, vehicles must meet a specific standard, and drivers must hold a full D or unrestricted D1 category license and a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). There is also a need for operators to prove their financial standing to the Traffic Commissioner (£7,850 immediately available reserves for the first vehicle and £4,350 for subsequent ones) and for a CPC holding transport manager to be engaged. Those groups who opt to meet the professional standards will be faced with significant costs. The registration and training costs for each driver is estimated at £1,500, amounting to £37.5m for the sector as a whole, if all current volunteers and staff are to be trained up. This is simply unaffordable and local authorities have already made clear that there are no funds available to meet extra costs.

Moreover, the question has been raised whether being forced to become a PSV Operator and operate commercially would endanger CT groups’ charitable status, and that it is inappropriate to use a charity’s reserves to prove financial standing.

The CTA is already pressing for talks with the Government and has started a petition - isn't this the best way to deal with this?
Many CTs have been dismayed that CTA have not so far been prepared to mount a direct challenge to DfT and are instead more focussed on generating support for the CT to shift to a full PSV operation. Whilst this may have some beneficial outcomes for the sector, it assumes that it is inevitable that the new directive from the Department will be applied. Many CT operators who are CTA members understood that CTA’s policy was to rigorously defend the s19 / s22 / s10b permit system. However, this policy is no longer being pursued within CTA, hence the value of this separate campaign.
How can we help the campaign?

In the first instance we need to make contact with supporters and to develop methods of communication – this website, social media etc. Please let us know by email if you wish to join us. We are currently formulating a range of activities and actions that you can assist us with – we will provide more details of these as they emerge. We also need financial support – there are various means of making donations to this campaign Learn More.

We are establishing an independent Trust bank account to hold all moneys and allow for independent scrutiny and audit. None of the proposed activities of the campaign are outside normal charitable objectives (lobbying for a review or a change in legislation that affects your beneficiaries is a legitimate charitable purpose) which means it will be possible for the full range of groups and individuals to contribute.

The commissioning of independent legal advice is a first step to establishing how the current position of the DfT will be challenged. It will then be necessary to raise funds to mount a legal challenge. In the meantime the group will engage with DfT to try to resolve this without the need for legal proceedings.

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Together we can Make a Difference!

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