Campaign to Challenge the DfT’s Proposed Changes to s19 and s22 Legislation
Important Message to all UK operators of s19 and s22 minibuses
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Why mount a campaign?
Who is mounting the campaign?
How did the campaign come about?
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?
Are the Community Transport Association (CTA) involved in the campaign?
How significant is the threat?
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?
The DfT letter does not mention changes to the 10b permit system in Northern Ireland - is this also threatened?
The DfT has planned a consultation on this matter this Autumn - should we not just have our say at this point?
Is the campaign lobbying to retain s19 and s22 permits in their current form?
How can we continue to operate minibus services if the new proposals are enforced?
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?
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.