Every year around this time I wish all my taxi and minicab readers warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy, profitable new year. I see no reason to change the tradition even though I published my last article back on
The changes in the London taxi and private hire market and the challenges facing London minicab and taxi drivers are not insignificant.
I left the industry for good back on
Technology has driven prices down so far that it is no longer viable to drive a minicab as a self employed person if you do not wish to claim benefits. I wrote earlier this year in The Uber Time Bomb that:-
UberX drivers I spoke with have family members that are dependent on them either in this country or overseas. In most cases they are the sole income provider and most receive a variety of benefits. I say most because some were less inclined to share what benefits, if any, they received as a result of their low net income.
My position on this is very simple. If you need benefits to stay self employed then, sadly, your business model has failed and it is time to get a job.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) October 29, 2016
Clearly, though, the growth of Uber as you can see above shows no signs of slowing. However, in London, the opportunity that Uber and the slowly failing Addison Lee now provides is the very antithesis of self employment. The test of self employment fails in so many areas it is only a matter of time before HMRC takes steps to enforce the law. But both companies will defend their positions vigorously.
Research by Citizens Advice has suggested that as many as 460,000 people could be falsely classified as self-employed, costing up to £314m a year in lost tax and employer national insurance contributions.
The financial secretary to the Treasury, Jane Ellison, announced in October 2016 that HM Revenue and Customs was launching a specialist unit to investigate companies who opt out of giving workers employment protections by using agency staff or calling them self-employed.
I created my first Twitter moment as you can see above back on 6th October 2016. I may make use of this more next year.
This is nothing new as Steve Williams writes in his excellent book Introducing Employment Relations – A Critical Approach. But the scale with which the new on demand ‘Sharing” economy has grown is frightening. Uber has grown by British taxpayers subsidising most of their “self employed” drivers by tax credits.
Uber is a giant corporation pursuing monopoly power and fighting governments the world over. What exactly is being shared here, and in whose interest?
What is explicitly not shared is responsibility. When something goes wrong with Uber, they just say: “It wasn’t me.” (The mega-corporation is purportedly neither buyer nor seller but innocent middleman.)
In a landmark employment tribunal ruling on Friday 28th Ocober 2016 Uber must now pay drivers the national living wage and holiday pay which has huge implications for the gig economy. My second Twitter Moment below reflects comment on this victory.
Decisions made by employment tribunals are binding across the whole of England and Wales. That means all 40,000 or more drivers across the UK. There’s an appeals system but assuming the judgement is upheld then all 40,000 drivers will be entitled to the UK’s national minimum wage and legally mandated vacation time and rest breaks. Worse for Uber (and better for drivers), drivers may also be entitled to back pay and compensation for all the time they were working under a system that has now been deemed illegal. Sadly, I will not be able to put in a claim for holiday pay for the year I was at Uber because I have not completed a trip with Uber in the last three months. This does seem a little odd but Leigh Day confirmed in a telephone call to me in Malta that this is the legal position.
Addison Lee, bless them, introduced an Uber style star-rating “reputation system”. They’re all the rage in the sharing economy. But neither Uber nor Addison Lee’s rating systems work. People feel bad about giving low ratings even when they are amply deserved, so they all cluster between four and five.
Instead, trust has to be enforced by authoritarian surveillance and discipline imposed by Uber itself. Even so, they insist that they are not even providing a service; the websites and apps are just a “communications platform” to link buyers and sellers. (Even as they price-gouge the sellers, with Uber taking increasingly large cuts of up to 30% of a fare and Addison Lee worse in many cases.)
Uber and Addison Lee do not consider their drivers to be employees to whom they would owe responsibilities: they are instead “independent contractors”. This view may need to change in the light of the Case Number 2202551/2015 & Others Dated 28 October 2016 Before Employment Judge A M Snelson Tribunal Member Mr D Pugh and Tribunal Member Mr D Buckley Between: Mr Y Aslam Mr J Farrar and Others -and- Uber B.V Uber London Ltd Uber Britannia Ltd.
The Aslam & Farrar V Uber Employment Judgement is here and the Aslam & Farrar V Uber Employment Judgement is here. These are the full court PDF documents available for download from Cab4Now.com. Well done lads. 🙂
I also wrote in The Uber Time Bomb about a possible course of action regarding the state subsidy of Uber in London:-
London taxi trade bodies could choose The Treaty of Lisbon Article 107 which lays down a general rule that the UK government may not aid or subsidise private parties in distortion of free competition. Remember the Addison Lee bus lane argument? It failed but this was the Article that was relied on. Uber is receiving millions by indirect subsidy of their UberX drivers through state benefits. This may be the best avenue for legal action against Uber.
Interestingly, Uber or Addison Lee could also use The Treaty of Lisbon Article 107 against Sadiq Khan.
Khan will introduce a series of new measures to protect London’s traditional taxi drivers, including new taxi ranks, £65m in grants for drivers who replace old vehicles with climate friendly cars and launching a new travel app.
Khan’s proposals favour black cabs and discriminate against the private hire industry. London taxis will get £65m from the taxpayer, which is another breach of the Treaty of Lisbon Article 107 which states clearly “…that the UK government may not aid or subsidise private parties in distortion of free competition.”
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) September 29, 2016
In early October I had a call from an Uber London representative to get my views on the proposed changes to the private hire regulatory framework. I recorded the call. Apologies for the quality. Uber uses VOIP when the “reach out” to their “partners”. It’s below if you haven’t already listened to it from the Twitter Moment above.
An interesting development early this year was that the LTDA took upon itself to send their LTDA Marshals to patrol Pancras Road to move on private hire vehicles waiting for passengers from St Pancras and Kings Cross Stations. Judging from their photos they have been very effective. The difficulty with this type of vigilante action – they have no authority – is that it may lead to confrontation.
LTDA Marshals at St Pancras again today keeping the set down clear! pic.twitter.com/cCUbSDdu8r
— The LTDA (@TheLTDA) 27 June 2016
However, they choose to ignore London taxi drivers touting further up Pancras Road on the opposite side.
— Lenny Etheridge (@lennythepen) 7 June 2016
Lenny maintains that it is simply parking but my contention is that it is touting for reasons I will explain in a moment. Based on my assumption that it is touting the hotspots where London taxi drivers tout are Finsbury Park station, Kings Cross St Pancras, London Bridge station, Marylebone station, Outside Harrods, Basil Street and Hans Road Outside Harrods, Brompton Road Outside Selfridges, Oxford Street, Paddington station, Putney High Street, Tooley Street and Upper Tachbrook Street (Victoria Station). There are, of course, many more.
If you have information about touting or other illegal London taxi activity, then please use this form. You may also use that form to report missing taxi driver identifiers on London taxis. When submitting a report, please provide as much detail as possible about the incident or issue.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) 6 June 2016
However, if you wish to report a specific crime – such as touting by London taxi drivers where you have their badge details – then you should report the incident directly to the Metropolitan Police Service on 0300 123 1212 (24 hour).
To assist the Metropolitan Police Service complainants may refer to the London Hackney Carriages Act 1843 Section 33 reproduced here for your convenience. The fact is a London taxi driver may not ply for hire elsewhere than at some standing or place appointed for that purpose (Penalty Level 1). A taxi driver is thus prohibited from taking up a position in any other place and remaining there for the purpose of plying for hire.
Lenny’s contention that “…the only cab available for hire is the ‘point’ cab” and that “It’s parking” fails because the court would have to consider why the London taxi driver was “parking” there? Will the London taxi driver gain a pecuniary advantage by his actions of “over ranking”. The answer, of course, is yes otherwise the London taxi driver would not wait there. The fact is he is remaining there for “…the purpose of plying for hire” at a point in the future.
Of course, the London taxi driver’s contention would be that he is not plying for hire because if anyone approaches him the potential passenger would be referred to the taxi on point – the taxi at the front of the rank they are attempting to join. Unfortunately, there is overwhelming precedent that simply being visible is sufficient for a summary conviction of a London taxi driver when he is “over ranking”.
The most recent case occurred in Eastbourne in 2000. This case came before Lord Justice Pill and Mr. Justice Bell. This was in the Queens Bench division of the High Court. The case had been brought to court by Eastbourne Borough Council against two PHV drivers. The fact that they were private hire drivers has no relevance to the conviction. They had been found on the rank of the forecourt of Eastbourne station. They were summoned under sect.37 of the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 of plying for hire without a licence. The magistrates dismissed the case on the grounds that the forecourt was not a public place.
At a higher court Lord Justice Pill quoted the case of White V Cubitt where a vehicle parked in a private yard was plying for hire, as it could be seen from the street. He went on to say applying the principle in White V Cubbit since a vehicle parked in the station forecourt was likely to attract custom from members of the public using the adjoining street, the defendants were plying for hire. We have the situation of being on view to the public.
To summarise, my contention is that because the London taxi driver when he is over ranking is “…on view to the public…” and by his action of “over ranking” the London taxi driver will, eventually, gain a pecuniary advantage by his actions of “over ranking” the London taxi driver has committed an offence under the statute. He is clearly “…prohibited from taking up a position in any other place and remaining there for the purpose of plying for hire”and the fact he is “on view to the public” assists a conviction further.
@TheLTDA you have no jurisdiction. Directing traffic is unlawful unless you are a police constable or a traffic warden. No exceptions. Ever.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) May 5, 2016
I am only writing about this now because of the unlawful actions of the LTDA and their vigilante approach in Pancras Road and other places. They really should get their own house in order before looking elsewhere. Even then, in the UK directing traffic is ALWAYS unlawful unless you are a police constable or a traffic warden.
@Cab4Now so u agree all laws are sacrosanct?
— The LTDA (@TheLTDA) May 6, 2016
As regular readers know I have challenged bad laws in the past myself and my most notable success was at the House of Lords. I won’t bore you with the detail but I wrote about it in Fraud and Failure. There have been many other occasions also. A minority of London taxi drivers – the Cab4Now Fan Club – love researching my past and I’m surprised that they have not found more recently. Buck your ideas up Blackcab2016 @Blackcab2016, John Ready @Cab4Later, Cab4Nowt @soccerfitness_, jockney @jockneycab, Cab4Fraud @Cab4Fraud, Perry – TaxiPoint @thesherbetdab and last, but by no means least UberMugshot @UberMugshot. The world needs to be reminded.
@TheLTDA you know the answer to that. We all have a duty to challenge bad laws. But your actions do not fit within that remit.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) May 6, 2016
Many people, both London minicab drivers and London taxi drivers, have been critical of past articles that I have written. Hundreds of comments have been published over the last six years. Every comment is published without censorship. I believe in free speech. Most know that I was an advocate of the free market. I changed my opinion on this last year. This was because the London minicab market for drivers is in tatters due to government policies allowing mass immigration which has priced out thousands of indigenous London minicab drivers who have chosen or cannot afford to work any longer driving a minicab in London.
We are seeking to get trade to agree there should be national minimum fares for both Taxi and Private hire and to seek legislation for this.
— GMB Pro Drivers (@GMBProDrivers) June 27, 2014
I have, for nearly two years now, supported an immediate cap on the number of London minicab drivers being licensed by TfL, tests on conversational English, a test nearer to London’s Knowledge test for London taxi drivers and a test for driving ability based on the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) courses. Progress is being made in this area but it is too little, too late.
On 4 May 2016 John Griffin spoke on YouTube and apologised to all Addison Lee drivers as he was “…embarrassed and deeply upset with the way things have turned out.” You can hear his thoughts at Numbers Never Lie that I wrote on
In that article I also wrote about poverty which is now rearing its ugly head in the both the London taxi and private hire trades.
After nearly 100 years, now globalisation and weak government are bigger threats to stability and living standards in the United Kingdom than ever before. If the majority of London private hire drivers and London taxi drivers do not join together under one powerful unionised voice then the game is up. For you and your families. Retrain. Now. Or you could fight? Fight for your rights. As a London taxi driver. As a London minicab driver. Together. One voice. One union.
The London taxi and private hire industry is at a turning point. There will never be a better opportunity to come together. And fight together. You waste it at your peril.
At the time, 4th May 2016, most London taxi drivers were against joining forces with London private hire drivers. There have now been several straw polls on Twitter where the majority of London taxi drivers appear to be in favour of such a notion. Doing nothing is not an option if you want to stay either side of the fence. I look forward to the first demonstration and I will follow the developments with interest.
Would you favour a joint demo with the legitimate PH trade to show no confidence in TFL as industry regulator?
— Mark (@kramwkram) October 18, 2016
It is unlikely that the London taxi trade associations such as UnitedCabbies, The_LCDC, RMT_LondonTaxi, TheLTDA and the recently formed ProactiveITA will support a joint demonstration but if there are enough requests from members of each organisation they will face a serious challenge in ignoring their members’ views. Please bear in mind though that to proceed with such a joint demonstration there will need to be one point of contact for both London taxi drivers and London private hire drivers combined with a dedicated joint social media campaign. And remember, this is only about drivers on both sides of the fence. Clear goals need to be set and communication is key.
Large private hire operators will never support such a demonstration and should not be involved at all. If there is solid support from London taxi drivers and London private hire hire drivers Cab4Now.com is available in any web based capacity. Social media is what we know and website development can also be provided. Completely free, of course. Forever. Good luck gents.
On 14th April 2016 in my biennial Addison Lee Driver Review feature I wrote about my departure from Addison Lee, my reasons and the future for Addison Lee.
The sad fact is that more and more account customers have tuned in to the Addison Lee off peak fares for card and cash bookings and are now only using their Addison Lee accounts during peak times when the saving is less significant. By doing this account customers are saving over 60% during off peak hours when compared to Addison Lee account rates. Addison Lee, even at 30% commission, earns considerably less than if the journey had been booked on the client’s account and the driver is now paid less than if the booking was on the account. Bonkers.
The behaviour of TfL and some of their board members is appalling. The regulator does not carry out its work fairly and the the current private hire regulatory review process is highly discriminatory. Tfl continue to over license the capital so that the carrying capacity for streets is exceeded.
TfL continues to lurch from one disaster to the next and has failed minicab drivers and Londoners to allow a dangerous race to the bottom with too many drivers now chasing too little work and working too long hours for too little money. TfL has been sadly unresponsive to even the most reasonable queries.
In 2016 the efforts of the United Private Hire Drivers coninue to gain traction along with the GMB who are aiming to force both Uber and Addison Lee to pay the minimum wage in full, together with becoming liable for employer’s NICs, pension contributions and other employer responsibilities. The business models of both Addison Lee and Uber may be in tatters overnight if Uber’s appeal is unsuccessful.
Of the eight articles this year two were published by Simon – Diaryofaminicab – , who is a senior member of the GMB and an Addison Lee driver. Simon, I thank you for your efforts. I will not be writing much about the minicab industry in the future because I am no longer part of it. If anyone else wishes to become an author please let me know. It’s a pretty simple process to publish your thoughts at any time if you have a strong opinion.
Going back to the start of 2016 I wrote about London Minicab Operator Challenges on 10th January 2016. I felt at the time that there was a danger that Addison Lee would try and compete with Uber on price. I didn’t say as much but the more enlightened amongst you may have realised from my opening paragraph.
The first article of the new year for me so I thought I’d write about a London minicab company that has yet to be born. A personal wishlist perhaps? And then I will comment on why I feel that 2016 will be the year of the taxi and private hire comparison app.
Change is good. And change we must. We live in an age where the primacy of markets is pervasive and this brings with it an obligation of corporations to maximise profits and minimise costs (especially wages and non-CEO salaries) and the undesirability of trade unions and other forms of collective action is a given. Addison Lee has changed. Just not for the better.
2016 saw a new Mayor of London and on the day of his appointment I made the video below. You will note my sceptical tone. I did not for one minute believe he would honour the pledges he made on LBC.
— Cab4Now.com (@Cab4Now) May 8, 2016
The article Chauffeur In London was written on 11th March 2016 in readiness for my launch of Cab4Now.com Chauffeurs which was based on my suggestion that would have protected the Addison Lee brand, generated additional profits at the usual AddLee commission structure and retained the best drivers if it had been made available to others after a successful trial period at Cab4Now.com.
It was agreed that this project could be taken forward on 29 February 2016 following on from my initial requests last year. Sadly, it never came to pass. I guess they changed their minds. It’s a real shame it didn’t work out. If it had worked out I might still be there. The full story is in my biennial Addison Lee Driver Review feature where I wrote about my departure from Addison Lee.
Our taxi industry must be deregulated, to benefit drivers and consumers alike: https://t.co/5WcB3LYrp3
— IEA (@iealondon) November 4, 2016
Last month, November 2016, the Uber PR machine went in to overdrive which did not go unnoticed by the London taxi and minicab trade.
Some of the 150 souvenirs from Sophie Sandor’s journey through the UK’s taxi market are reproduced here.
Many London taxi drivers really do let themselves down on Twitter when they feel under attack from any quarter. However, the strength of feeling against Uber is clear.
Sophie claims that she is “… not a “mouthpiece” or a “messenger” either” for Uber London and that she “… strongly believes in all of what I’m saying & writing about the cab industry.”
The fact is the lovely Sophie works for the Institute of Economic Affairs and that organisation was retained by Uber London at a time which coincided with The Aslam & Farrar V Uber Employment Judgement referred to above and available here. It is clear that IEA have tried to manipulate the debate by shifting focus from Uber’s exploitation of workers and tax evasion to taxi regulation. I really don’t think anyone is taken in by their position so, in terms of PR, they have failed.
The IEA claims to be the UK’s original free-market think-tank, founded in 1955. They should choose their clients more wisely. If you run with dogs IEA you will catch fleas. I find Sophie’s comments, at best, disingenuous.
In the light of being forced out of the London private hire industry due to the collapse in income potential I had to consider pastures new.
I must say thank you to all the new clients that came from my last article called Taxi Website And Booking Platform £1500 published on 22nd May 2016. I recognise that my opinions are not to everyone’s taste but I stand by every word I write. Some will never do business with me. That’s fine. I’ve been told I’m like Marmite. The fact is, 78% of businesses now have dedicated teams for their social media. This is up from 67% in 2012, demonstrating that increasingly, taxi and private hire operators are acknowledging the power of social media to attract and engage customers. Cab4Now.com is happy to help.
83% of customers have reported bad experiences with social media marketing. Uber and Addison Lee do their best to manage outcomes by asking upset clients to contact them by email. As a business owner, it’s clear that using social media marketing to your advantage is critical and Cab4Now.com will maximise the impact of your social media marketing campaigns. We know what your goals should be, and how to achieve them. We are the only specialist social media agency for the taxi and private hire industry in the UK.
Over the last six years the team at Cab4Now Towers in Malta have also built and hosted over one hundred taxi websites with varying degrees of social and booking integration. We continue to specialise in what we know best and added social media management services for private hire operators and taxi companies in 2015. This new service has proved immensely popular and compliments our core taxi website hosting and design services.
John Milton coined the phrase ‘silver lining’ in Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634 and I subscribe to the view that every cloud has a silver lining. So do my clients. 🙂
I have other areas that I am developing in Malta too and no doubt boring people to death with videos on Twitter of my Betfair and currency trading platforms. Here’s a Betfair playlist from YouTube.
Currency trading continues to show a satisfactory return on capital and WhyLose.com, a partner website managing my trades, is closed to new clients except by recommendation from an existing client. And has been since 2006. Their managed forex trading strategies are backed up by extensive research and analysis, and they have a highly disciplined approach to deploying those strategies. Their compliance procedure means they only deal with HNW individuals and investment professionals who are exempt as set out in Article 14 of the UK Financial Services and Markets Act 2001 (Promotion of Collective Investment Schemes) (Exemptions) Order 2001.
The funds referred to at WhyLose.com are unregulated collective investment schemes within the meaning of Section 235 of the UK Financial Services & Markets Act 2000. As such they are not regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority or any other regulatory authority. WhyLose.com is restricted by Section 21 and by Section 238 of the Act respectively and can only promote the Funds to certain categories of person.
However, the automated alert service is available to everyone and trades can also be placed automatically via those alerts. The alert service is free for 12 months for Cab4Now.com readers and I can provide a complete turnkey solution. Money is held by FCA regulated brokers and WhyLose.com only provides trading alerts which you may, or may not, choose to act upon. Anyway, here’s the risk warning. 🙂
Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite.
Now that’s out of the way, the most tax efficient way of trading forex today is to use a spread betting account. If you do so you escape the 18% or 28% capital gains tax that shareholders must pay on trading profits (capital gains amounts to the difference between what you pay for an investment and what you eventually sell it for). There is also no stamp duty and no commission on each trade apart from the spread. Not having to pay capital gains tax is a great advantage as it means that you can factor an additional 18% return on your trading profits since you will be saving monies that would have otherwise gone to HMRC. Moreover, with spread betting there is no income tax on dividends; which is levied at rates as high as 50% for high income earners.
However, it is important to point out that spread betting may only be tax free if it is not your main source of income. Fortunately, due to my interest on Cab4Now.com and other websites that applies to me. For that reason if you choose to open an account it is probably not wise to put your job description down as ‘day trader’ or ‘trader’ as it would then be rather difficult to claim at a later date that trading was not your main income if HMRC were to query where you made your money!
I invested a lot of time in trying to establish the position of spread betting with HMRC and in the end it was pretty clear – perhaps this will ring true with those who have investigated this with the revenue themselves? If you have a ‘subsistence income’ (i.e. enough to live off) from an independent source that you pay tax on, then HMRC can’t tax you on your spreadbetting activities. It’s only if you have no other source of income and you use it for your primary income source that the tax advantages may disappear. Maybe stay driving a minicab or taxi for a few hours each week would then have significant tax benefits?
The bottom line is that if you are a tax payer who wins at spread betting (or any other forms of gambling for that matter!) you should not be liable for tax on winnings. If you do not have any other regular taxable income other than gambling you will probably be classified as a professional gambler (your trade) and may lose your BIM22017 exemption.
In any case if you are employed and pay PAYE you cannot be classed as a professional gambler and so do not need to pay tax on gambling winnings even if they exceed your employed income. The reason HMRC are reluctant to classify anyone as professional is that a professional gambler could then claim relief against losses from gambling and against the spreadbet companies proportion of their gambling tax.
Many major FX trading platforms now have a spread betting option. I hope this is food for thought for some in the future.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest and I’ll be in touch early next year.
Finally, all that remains for me to comment on in 2016 is KeepitReal from here. It is always nice to be noticed.
Thanks to everyone for making 2016 a great year for me and the Cab4Now Team and may peace, hope, happiness and love be this season’s gift to you!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!