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Sadiq Khan celebrates ‘pause’ of English language requirement for cabbies


Sadiq Khan has been filmed celebrating Transport for London’s decision to “pause” English language requirements for the capital’s cabbies.

Khan, who stepped outside during a short interval between sessions at London Mayor’s Questions on Thursday, took selfies and shook hands with private hire drivers just hours after announcing plans to pause both SERU and English language requirements.

The safety, equality and regulatory understanding requirement, known by the acronym SERU, came into force in October 2021.

The 50-minute assessment, which costs £36, is completed through multiple choice and sentence completion questions.

In its page on the SERU requirement, TFL said: “It is essential that London PHV drivers have an appropriate understanding of safety, equality and regulatory requirements that apply to them.

“This helps ensure public safety and will enhance levels of customer service.”

TFL also described the English language requirement as “essential for public safety”, adding: “Drivers must satisfy the ELR by taking and passing a speaking and listening test and the SERU assessment is used to assess their reading and writing skills.”

The English language assessment, which also costs £36, consists of two main assessments.

TFL’s speaking and listening test consists of a 15 to 20-minute conversation, while the reading and writing assessment is based on information contained in the Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Handbook.

The PHV Driver’s Handbook, which also forms the backbone of the SERU assessment, includes a number of key sections.

It looks to inform drivers about reducing the risk of violence in difficult situations, making passengers feel safe and about being careful behind the wheel.

A Freedom of Information request revealed there are more than 100,000 private hire drivers in London.

However, the proportion of candidates who passed the SERU assessment between October 2021 and October 2022 stood at just 69 per cent.

In the clip of Khan meeting private hire drivers, the Mayor was joined by London’s Deputy Mayor of Transport Seb Dance as demonstrators chanted about getting “justice”.

Placards surrounding Khan carried a number of slogans, including “We Cannot Change Our Careers” and “No Test, Provide Training”.

Other placards argued “No Drivers Should Lose Their Licence If They Fail SERU” and “Drivers Don’t Need The English Test”.

Khan, who serves as chairman of TFL, has confirmed plans to pause the SERU and English language requirements.

He said: “TFL is pausing enforcement against private hire drivers in London who have not yet met the SERU or the English language requirement.

“A trial is being undertaken to do assessments in a different way.

“I know this has been a matter of great concern for private hire drivers across our city.

“Drivers who have been struggling to meet the requirements now won’t face licensing enforcement action while the trial is underway.

“I have previously raised drivers' concerns with the regulator, TFL, about these requirements.

“PHV drivers are a crucial part of London’s economy, and as Mayor, I will always champion their interests and those of their passengers.”