City of Wolverhampton Council has successfully influenced a national policy change which will save Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers across the country hundreds of pounds in fees.

Drivers who receive manual DBS certificates, and are therefore unable to subscribe to the Update Service, will now be refunded their DBS fees after successful lobbying by Councillor Phil Page, chair of the council’s regulatory committee.

Councillor Page wrote to the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Chief Executive of the Disclosure and Barring Service highlighting the unfair financial burden placed upon drivers who receive manual DBS certificates.

Under the Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards, published by the Department for Transport (DfT), drivers must either be registered to the DBS Update Service (for a £13 annual fee) or provide an Enhanced DBS Certificate (£38 + admin) every six months.

However, drivers with manual DBS certificates are ineligible from subscribing to the DBS Update Service, meaning a brand-new certificate must be purchased every 6 months.

Over the course of a three-year licence, a driver on the Update Service whose certificate remains current would pay £92.49. Drivers who are issued a manual certificate are forced to pay £320.94, a staggering £228.45 difference.

Councillor Phil Page said: “In a time where there cost of living is rising, this is extremely welcome news that will benefit hackney carriage and private hire drivers across the entire country.

“There is a shortage of licensed drivers available to safely transport people, particularly those contributing to the night-time economy, and the trade does not need any more barriers to entry. 

“This is a fantastic result and I will continue to work tirelessly to help support the private hire trade”. 

Eric Robinson, Chief Executive of the Disclosure and Barring Service, replied to Councillor Page, advising: “I am pleased to inform you that DBS has recently agreed to refund the DBS fee for those hackney carriage and private hire drivers that receive manual certificates going forward, ensuring that those drivers are not out of pocket as a result of the requirement to obtain checks every 6 months. 

“To summarise, this will enable licensing authorities to submit new DBS applications every 6 months as per the Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards for those drivers unable to join the Update Service. DBS will process the new application as normal, but will refund the application fee (not the Registered Bodies administration fee) upon request where a manual certificate is issued. 

“This approach will meet the requirements of the Department for Transport guidance and DBS is currently engaging directly with the taxi sector and relevant Registered Bodies on this matter, with the Home Office stakeholder group engaging directly with the Department for Transport.

“In the meantime, I can assure you that DBS continues to work on a full resolution to the current system limitations so that the requirement to issue manual certificates for filtering purposes will cease. We currently expect the resolution to be in place by quarter 3 of 2023”.

A copy of Councillor Pages letter is available upon request.