On 10th September 2013, new rules came into effect in the UK for drivers of vehicles with nine or more passenger seats. Drivers are now required to hold a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) if they are engaged in driving such vehicles for hire or reward or for other commercial purposes.
These new requirements affect the ability of charities and other organisations to use minibuses, as many of their drivers may be being paid (hence ‘hire and reward’) but may not hold a current CPC, which requires a minimum number of hours of professional development study each year and must be renewed every five years.
The CPC requirement does not apply to vehicles with eight or fewer passenger seats, and so Europcar has introduced a new vehicle group which is exempt from the CPC rules – comprising a range of vehicles that provide seating for a maximum of 8 passengers, including MPVs and small minibuses. Europcar does also offer a larger minibuses of up to 17 seats, for which a CPC is required, in a seperate vehicle group.
Ken McCall, Managing Director of Europcar UK Group, says that the firm’s objective is to help ensure its customers stay compliant with the CPC rules but are able to carry out their normal business without necessarily being dependent on CPC-qualified drivers:
“We know how important it is for public sector organisations and charities to be able to access vehicles to help people in their local communities”, explained Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar UK Group. “We were very concerned that the new CPC regulations may limit these services if it wasn’t easy for our customers to select the right size vehicle, particularly where a driver may not have a CPC.
“Whilst we fully understand the objectives of the new CPC, there are a number of occasions when a smaller vehicle will suffice and will not, therefore, require the driver to comply with the new rules.”
Under the new rules, professional drivers including lorry and bus and coach drivers and minibus drivers, must hold a CPC, as well as their driving licence, which is renewable every 5 years. The CPC aims to improve the knowledge and skills of lorry, bus and coach drivers, to enhance road safety. For more information, visit the gov.uk Driver CPC website.