Three reasons to protect your employees with benefits

30 Jun

Employee Benefits are becoming more and more popular across workforces who are looking to bring on the best talent in the market, keep hold of their most valuable assets (employees) and keep up with the rest of the market.

Charlie Cousins the Director of Hooray Health & Protection who specialise in employee benefit insurances for SME’s tells us “ We deal with a number of companies who provide employee benefits for their staff but it’s never a one size fits all approach. Each company is unique and will have different requirements which will vary depending on your business and its staff. Speak to your staff first and find out what they want from their employee benefits packages”

We have put together three of the main reason companies provide employee benefits for their staff and what benefit it has to your company

Attract the best talent

The job market is set for a change and we are looking to have a record four million unemployed in the UK by the end of 2020.

When interviewing new staff, you want to ensure you have the best benefits package in place to entice the best talent in the market

Retain your star workers

When you build your team and train them to be the best, they can be it is devastating to lose someone, and your best staff will always have the competition attempting to poach them.

Offering them benefits which they potentially would not be able to take out without group benefits (health or life insurance) will build trust and help you retain the best talent.

Improve Productivity

If you consider that happy employees are up to 20% more productive as a business owner it would be ridiculous to not do everything you can to keep your employees happy and wanting to come into work for you.

Offering employee benefits shows them that you not only care about them and their family but you are actively promoting wellbeing in work via the number of employee benefits on offer.

Taxi Firm In Wolverhampton Stripped Of Its Operating License

4 Aug

Westside Radio Cars had its license stripped in October 2013 after it was discovered the firm was using uninsured and unlicensed vehicles. The company appealed the decision by magistrates in April 2014 and then went to Wolverhampton Crown Court when the first appeal failed.

However, the boss of Westside Radio Cars was caught driving a private hire car that was in breach of operator license regulations just days before the issue was to be heard in Crown Court. Not only did the vehicle lack details of the driver’s license number, it also possessed a magnetic door sign that was easy to remove.

Judge Amjad Nawaz rejected the company’s final appeal recently and said that hundreds of passengers were transported in uninsured vehicles. He said the advice from the local authority was ignored and the fact these illegal journeys were still taking place in July 2014 was amazing. The judge said that Westside Radio Cars showed a complete disregard for the rules in place to protect drivers and passengers in the city.

He continued by saying the local authority acted appropriately and with due diligence to protect the best interests of the public. He concluded by saying Mr Hussain, the owner of the company, is not a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold an operating license due to his failure to abide by the city’s rules and regulations.

Safety Issues

Hussain was initially granted an operating license to run Westside Radio Cars in December 2004 though concerns about the company’s operations only surfaced in May 2013. Two months later, three of the company’s vehicles lost their licenses after it was believed they did not have the requisite insurance to carry fare-paying passengers. Within two days, another seven members of the fleet had their insurance cancelled.

Council compliance officers urged the company to follow the rules but checks showed Westside Radio Cars continued to be in breach by not having copies of important documentation such as vehicle MoT, driving license and drivers insurance. Hussain refused to comment after he was ordered to pay the costs of the case within 14 days; an amount believed to be £6,000.

Wolverhampton’s cabinet member for city services, John Reynolds, said it was not a decision that was made lightly. He said licensing services work closely with organisations in the city to make sure all requirements are met. If the safety of the public is compromised in any way, it is necessary for strong action to be taken and he said this could be seen in the outcome of this court case.

Teenagers Attack Taxi Driver With Knife In Telford

4 Aug

Chloe Louise Watts and an unnamed 17 year old male were in court in Telford as they answered charges of assault on a taxi driver. She denied charges of unlawful wounding, possession of a knife, attempted robbery after she was arrested along with her male accomplice in Mossey Green Way in May 2014.

The taxi driver was also unnamed but is known to be a male in his forties. He was left with a severe cut on his hand that needed 11 stitches after the attack. Watts told Telford Court that she didn’t know her male accomplice was carrying a knife. She did plead guilty to assisting him since she admitted telling him to get rid of his clothes after the attack.

Prosecutor Robert Edwards said the young male has pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and possession of a knife on 14 July and they would not pursue the attempted robbery charge. Edwards also told the court that the Crown Prosecution Service would accept the guilty plea of Watts in relation to assisting the young male attacker in place of other charges.

The case was adjourned on 28 July and sentencing will be heard on 5 September. Watts was granted bail with the condition that she reports to the local police station twice a week (Tuesday and Friday). She is also required to co-operate with probation when it comes to drawing up a pre-sentence report on her circumstances.

Arrival Of Ride-Share Company ‘Uber’ Infuriates Taxi Drivers In Colombia & Leads To Strike

4 Aug

In Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, cab drivers have acted with fury at the arrival of Uber, a ride-share company with 15,000 cabbies electing to go on strike in protest. Uber is a San Francisco based organisation and it has been described as ‘transportation piracy’. Taxi drivers in cities such as Barranquilla and Bogota have also hit out and are protesting Uber and other services that undermine taxi drivers.

Uber Steals Customers

Up until July, Uber’s operations in Colombia were illegal but the Ministry of Transportation overturned this decision. It was also announced that a decree to regulate ride-share services such as Uber would be established by the end of July. According to Deputy Transport Minister Nicolas Estupinan, it was recognized that the community needed a new type of service with different sets of characteristics and because of this there would be a need for new rates for these services to be implemented.

Cabbies in Colombia are furious at the decision to allow a ride-share company to operate on their turf because they feel it is illegal and are also worried about the impact it will have on their business. According to Uldaric Pena, general manager of Free Taxi, cab drivers are now just waiting on the dreaded decree that will favour Uber.
Pena said that Uber uses a different rate system to the taxi industry and it may ultimately take away as much as 40% of the industry’s customers. Uber uses a mobile app which connects users to drivers for ride-sharing services and hire.

All a customer needs to do is send a text to request a ride and pay via their credit card to the Uber app. In Colombia, Uber’s units will cost $1.50 apiece and $3 will be the minimum fare. There will also be ‘flat rates’ such as a ride to Bogota airport which will cost $20.

Taxi Driver Solidarity

According to Andres Montoya, a cab driver in Medellin, drivers are united against special vehicles that provide individual transport through the new Uber app. Another driver said he didn’t like what was happening with Medellin’s taxi system and described it as ‘piracy’ before claiming the protest was justified.

Montoya continued by saying many drivers feel duty bound to join the protest to protect their interests. He doesn’t think it is fair if some drivers get work while others don’t. Taxi drivers are also seizing the moment to complain about other issues with taxi culture in Colombia. For example, the ‘peajito’, a toll station in cities such as Bogota and Medellin, has angered drivers because it costs them $1 each time they drive through. This adds up to a significant cost over the course of the week since they get charged each time they drive to and from the airport.

Protestors are also angry at what they call ‘transportation piracy’ which involves unidentified cars driving normal bus and taxi routes while offering a much lower fare than official modes of transportation. These illegal operations are dotted throughout Colombia’s major cities. Numerous cab drivers spoke to national news publications claiming the strike was at an end for now while conversations between taxi organisation bosses and the Ministry for Transportation are ongoing.

Nationwide Strike

Although drivers in the city of Cali will not join any protests this time around, cabbies in Barranquilla and Bogota have followed Medellin’s lead. Javier Monroy Velandia, the president of the Federation of Taxis in Bogota, stated that a city-wide taxi strike had been initiated. Cabs in different parts of the city tried to block major roads but anti-riot police arrived and caused the protesters to disperse.

According to Monroy, cab drivers were protesting about piracy and the need for an increased rate to cover the costs of a new administrative decree which asks vehicle owners to pay social security to drivers. He said these were issues every bit as important as Uber which was only one reason for the strike. In Barranquilla, drivers were protesting the recent assessment of cab rates by the city’s mayor which were made without precise figures on the number of taxis currently in operation in the city.

Late Night ‘Party Tariffs’ Are Not A Hit With Cab Drivers

4 Aug

Council chiefs in Edinburgh are said to be considering a proposal to add an extra £2 to journeys between midnight and 5am in the city on Friday and Saturday nights. The idea is to encourage more cabbies to work late but the industry has hit back by saying it could stop people from using a taxi to get home safely after a night out.

Is Safety A Risk?

According to representatives of the taxi trade, there is no need for such a ‘party tariff’. Members of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, Comcab, City Cabs and Central Taxis met at the City Chambers and unanimously rejected any proposals to add an extra charge to journeys after midnight on weekends.

According to the director of City Cabs, Les McVay, the city isn’t as busy as it once was and there are a huge number of taxis operating. He believes an extra charge would make passengers more reluctant to hire a black cab to get them home safely. The taxi trade also wants traditional holiday and Christmas increases to be simplified or reduced. McVay said the trade doesn’t want to discourage people from hiring a cab during the busy festive period.

The director of Central Taxis, Tony Kenmuir, agrees and said most drivers expect to receive double pay over the Christmas and Hogmanay periods but meter readings increase by less than 50%. Yet he believes the lower fares encourage people to go out, enjoy themselves and then use cabs to get home. He concluded by saying his company are happy to unite with other black cab firms and recommend a reduction in holiday fares.

A High Price?

There are some cabbies who are delighted with the news as they believe the added tariff provides a greater incentive to work later. Statistics show that working after midnight can be perilous for cab drivers as they are forced to pick up drunken revellers. Unfortunately, things can get out of hand and damage gets caused to the cab. The result is an insurance claim and the cabbie’s next insurance quote will be much higher.

Kezia Dugdale, Lothian Labour MSP, believes the increased tariff means women will have to pay a higher price to get home safely after a night out which is unfair. The scheme is already in place in other UK cities such as Glasgow so consultants are trying to find out the impact of the scheme in these locations.

Councillors are expected to receive a report on the proposals in around four month’s time. According to a spokesman for the council, taxi fare structures are regularly reviewed. He confirmed that there were discussions with members of the taxi trade about a late night tariff along with other proposals. He concluded by saying the council’s regulatory committee will hear a report on the trade’s recommendations in November.

London Taxi Company Enjoys Successful Return

27 Jul

Coventry has always been synonymous with London Taxis and it appears as if the good times are back. According to Peter Johansen, the man at the forefront of London Taxi Company’s revival, lessons in pride have been learned along with new ways to create a demand for orders. The firm underwent extreme difficulties recently but it has regained its place near the top of the ladder thanks to its recent resurgence.

Overcoming Difficulties

Johansen is quick to point out that the firm found it difficult to make its comeback and coming back from the brink was a stressful affair. Only when it came out of administration did Johansen breathe a sigh of relief though he knew more work needed to be done. He said that most people are unaware of just how hard it is to bring a business out of administration.

Johansen said the first three months were the most difficult as they had to get things up and running and even getting a bank account was hard work. It took a couple of months just to open a bank account for the firm because the complications of being in administration.

Running a company without a bank account was a nightmare according to Johansen as he had to pay suppliers and employees. Just a week before London Taxi Company went into administration, 400 cabs were recalled due to faulty steering boxes so as well as trying to improve the black cab, the company’s employees also had to work extra hard just to restore the company’s once great reputation.

Putting Things Together

Johansen said he didn’t want the company to continue making the same mistakes and he had three priorities once he took over. First of all, customers had to be the number one concern; secondly, the quality of everything produced by the company had to be exceptional and thirdly, the business needed to make profit.

The company had a number of vehicles in stock after administration but they had various issues in terms of quality. Johansen knew these vehicles could not be sold until all the problems had been dealt with. The result was a total refurbishment program which cost the company £6.5 million.

He also travelled to London to talk with cab drivers and received almost 300 angry letters in the first month. He admitted that it was a hard task but he did reply to everyone and found it to be an important exercise as it helped him better understand the concerns of cabbies. Now, he receives only a handful of negative emails and a number of positive ones which praise the new direction the company is taking.

Cab drivers were not happy that the door panels of the taxis were easy to scratch and hard to repair. One of the first changes made by the ‘new’ London Taxi Company was to change the nine interior panels with better quality panel that doesn’t scratch. This was a costly project however as each new set cost almost £300. There is also a 21-point check which addresses all the old faults and Johansen claims cabbies say the new cabs are the best they have ever bought.

Growth

The hard work is paying off for the company as it won a contract to supply 500 cabs to Azerbaijan. Baku, the nation’s capital, will be hosting the European Games next year so this could represent a great marketing opportunity for London Taxi Company. Some 300 of these cabs will be reserved for VIPs travelling to and from the games.

Johansen concluded his interview by saying he was proud of the company employees and said the company would not have succeeded without their hard work and attention to detail. He has seen a resurgence in the pride of the black cab and while it has been a very tiring year, the rewards have been well worth it.

Taxi Drivers In Moray Must Adhere To New Dress Code

27 Jul

Moray Council’s licensing committee is taking steps towards improving the taxi and private hire trade. It began with a fresh review of private hire and taxi licenses and this action has been followed by a new ‘dress code’ which is to be implemented immediately.

From now on, drivers will be expected to dress smartly while on duty and they are also not allowed to smoke when required at taxi ranks. Additionally, there will be new knowledge and language tests added to their licensing application.

The committee carried out a consultation in February when representations were requested from local organisations, the taxi trade, the public, Police Scotland and other interested groups. A sub-group of five councillors were chosen to review the responses and they made recommendations based on their findings. These recommendations were then approved by the licensing committee in Moray.

It would appear that such a review was long overdue since it has been 10 years since the last one. According to the local authority, full details of the dress code will be finalised once discussions with the trade have been completed.

Plans To Cut Private Hire Red Tape Concerns Lancashire Police

27 Jul

The police and crime commissioner of Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, has hit out at the new deregulation bill which will allow people without a private hire license to drive private hire vehicles when they are deemed to be ‘off duty’. According to Grunshaw, the mooted Deregulation Bill is going to put the lives of people in danger as the likelihood of sexual assaults and rapes will increase.

At present, only those with the requisite license can operate marked private hire vehicles and all drivers must be regularly re-licensed. These individuals are subject to background checks which reduces the chances of a convicted sex offender getting behind the wheel.

However, the new legislation will ensure that any member of the public can operate a marked private hire car when it is not officially being used for business. Grunshaw said residents must have the confidence to know that their driver is properly licensed before getting into the vehicle.

He believes these new measures will needlessly place countless people at risk and Lancashire could be one of the worst affected areas due to its thriving night time economy. While he acknowledges that the Government are not deliberately trying to place people in harm’s way, he hopes they will listen to the justified concerns of the many police commissioners opposed to the Bill.

Milton Keynes Private Hire and Taxi Changes Provoke Concerned Reaction

27 Jul

According to Councillor Hannah O’Neill of Milton Keynes Council and Andrew Parkes, a Labour Parliamentary candidate for Milton Keynes South, the proposed changes to taxi and private hire regulations in the region could place locals at risk.

The Government’s Deregulation Bill, which is to be voted on by MPs on June 23, will allow people without a minicab license to drive it when it is ‘off duty’. The Bill will also end annual driver’s license checks and enable minicab drivers to subcontract bookings to firms in other regions.

Even local taxi drivers have backed protests against the Bill while industry bodies, unions and campaigners from different organisations have also joined the fight. These groups believe local councils will not have the power to enforce the Bill’s changes in a safe manner.

Fears Of Increased Crime

According to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a group that campaigns for better personal safety, allowing anyone to operate a private hire vehicle or taxi means sex offenders will have a better opportunity to prey on vulnerable women than ever before. The Local Government Association weighed in by saying these Government proposals need to be withdrawn immediately for the sake of passenger safety.

The Labour party has already vowed to vote against the Deregulation Bill and Parkes said that currently, minicab drivers in Milton Keynes have undergone medical and criminal background checks with the local council. He pointed out that if the Bill goes through, these checks will be a thing of the past and any member of the public will be allowed to drive an off-duty minicab.

Parkes also said he knows lots of people within Milton Keynes who rely on minicabs and taxis to get home safely. Many of these individuals are women and the elderly but if the Bill is passed, it is likely that there will be an increase in rogue drivers operating on the roads. He concluded by saying the Government needed to abandon their plans and ensure passenger safety is their first concern.

The Labour Shadow Roads Minister, Richard Burden, said that the Government’s proposals are poorly planned and believes bad consultation is one of the reasons. He also stated that public safety is being put at risk because people will not know if the driver of the minicab is actually licensed. There is a chance the cab will be driven by an ex-convict and it is even possible for those convicted of sex crimes to get behind the wheel and pretend to be a minicab driver.

Burden concluded by saying that unions, councils, safety charities and the private hire & taxi trade are all against the Deregulation Bill. He is angry that ‘out of touch’ Ministers are refusing to listen and insist on placing people at risk. In a few days time, we will know if the Bill is passed or if common sense prevails and it is quashed.

Relaxation Of Private Hire Taxi Driver Checks Leads To Fears Of Rape

27 Jul

According to a number of police chiefs across Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria, plans to reduce taxi driver red tape could lead to an increase in the number of sex attacks reported in the region. The police chiefs of the aforementioned regional forces have joined together with other groups to condemn the plans. At present, changes could be made due to the Deregulation Bill which is going through parliament and most police chiefs are against the idea.

A notable exception is Julia Mulligan, the North Yorkshire commissioner, as her name does not appear on a list of police and crime commissioners (PCC) to have backed the campaign against the new plans. The campaign is being led by Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester PCC.

As well as the police, licensing officials, the taxi trade and a host of groups that work with victims of sexual assault and rape have backed Lloyd’s campaign. At this moment in time, you cannot operate a private hire vehicle which is marked unless you are a licensed private hire driver. This means drivers are often re-licensed and there are restrictions when it comes to driving vehicles across local authority boundaries.

A Dangerous Change

However, the Deregulation Bill would change all that and would lead the prospect of a complete free-for-all when it comes to driving private hire vehicles. Effectively, it will be possible for anyone to drive a private hire car when the registered owner is not using it.

According to the Government, this new plan allows families to avoid running a second car thus saving them money. Yet critics of the Bill point out that drivers of the cars could lie about who they are.

Durham PCC Ron Hogg said the existing system in Durham and Darlington is designed to reduce the risk of passengers being harmed while in a taxi. He believes the removal of these restrictions will only place members of the public in unnecessary danger. Northumbria PCC Vera Baird said the new Bill means people can no longer feel safe in taxis. She said that while cutting red tape is always a good idea, it should not come at the cost of people’s safety.

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger said that more time needed to be taken to look at the new plans in detail. He doesn’t believe it is necessary to take risks with safety.