Drivers have branded fees which see some cab firms paying thousands of pounds a year more in costs a “catastrophe.”

Under previous Transport for London (TfL) regulations cab firms faced a maximum charge for operator licensing fees of just under £3,000.

But since the transport body changed these rules in September 2017 some firms are now faced with charges which could see them paying up to £464,000 a year.

Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), said: “It’s a catastrophe and TfL’s operating costs are not reasonable. The system is beyond anything.

“If TfL were short of money they should have charged cab firms on the number of drivers they have.”

The remarks came earlier today at a London Assembly transport committee meeting where concerns were voiced about problems faced by cab drivers in the capital.

Previously private hire vehicle operators were divided into two categories, a ‘small’ operator -with no more than two vehicles, and a ‘standard’ operator, operators with more than two vehicles, regardless of the size of their taxi fleet.

A so called ‘small’ operator would pay £1,488 licencing fee, lasting five years and ‘standard’ operator would pay £2,826 for a licencing fee, lasting for the same period of time.

But the new system means charges for private hire vehicles are split into eight different categories.

Licensing charges now range from £2,000 for a five-year licence for those with 10 vehicles or fewer, to £464,000 per year for the largest operator.

But it is argued that this impacts upon smaller businesses who cannot necessarily pay this charge and compete with larger taxi companies.

Mr Wright said “unrealistic” costs, such as operator licensing fees, imposed on cab firms are a “barrier to entry” for many people into the industry.

He also told the assembly that the English test cab drivers must pass is another barrier to entry for people trying to get into the industry and people do not need to speak perfect English to work as a driver.

This test was made compulsory in April 2017 and the cost of it ranges from £180 to £200 pounds.

Mr Wright said: “We have been working perfectly well for years without these regulations.

“Cab drivers should not be faced with this expensive test. The English test is absolutely not fit for purpose.”

He also raised fears that the compulsory test could mean “thousands” of drivers lose their jobs as cab drivers or fail to become cab drivers in the first place.

The test applies to drivers either applying for a license for the first time or renewing their current license.

Mr Wright said TfL makes a lot of policy, such as making English tests compulsory, without speaking to people in the private hire industry.

He added: “This is not the way to respectfully deal with us. Communication and engagement need to be improved.”