The Association of Independent Professionals (IPSE) has reacted angrily to the decision by TfL (Transport for London) not to renew the licence for app-based taxi service Uber, a move that effectively prevents it from operating in the capital and leaves its army of freelance drivers without work.
IPSE CEO Chris Bryce moved swiftly to condemn the decision, underlining the severe impact that it will have on vast numbers of freelancing Uber drivers in London. He said:
“TfL’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence is perverse and will leave tens of thousands of hardworking, honest and dedicated self-employed drivers out of work. It is a bad move for London’s travellers and a disaster for people using the app to make a living. The vast majority of drivers who use the Uber platform are self-employed individuals who will now struggle to put food on the family table. Many of the drivers are tied in to lease deals on their cars, and they will be incurring costs without a way to earn a living.”
Noting that the decision appears to have been politically motivated, Mr Bryce revealed that IPSE is “extremely concerned” about the fact that it wholly ignores the many thousands of people who earn a living via the Uber app. The move flatly contradicts London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s expressed aim of ensuring the wellbeing of ordinary hardworking people, which makes his support for the decision all the more shocking.
Emphasising the huge benefits of flexible working delivered by a growing army of contracting professionals and freelancers to the UK economy, Mr Bryce said that as a society, people should be embracing the innovation of app-based methods of working, not denying it in a “Luddite” fashion as TfL and Mr Khan appear to have done.
IPSE, he added, is now calling on Mr Khan to rethink his endorsement of the decision and revoke his support. Mr Bryce urged that the Mayor should now intervene to make sure that Uber drivers will be able to go on working. Freelancers and contracting professionals, he declared, merely wish “to earn a living without having to depend on the State.”
Writing for The Spectator, political commentator Rachel Cunliffe was even more outspoken, charging Mr Khan with yielding to pressure from vested interests (the taxi lobby) and thereby assisting in “banning a business model because its competitors don’t like it – to hell with consumers.”
Ms Cunliffe described the decision as a “cowardly” attempt to duck the tough conversation that must be had about the future of the labour landscape by pinning the blame for a huge economic phenomenon on one company “that has the audacity to provide a service people want.”