Taxi licensing applications – fixing complexity, inefficiency and risk


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline
  3. Feedback

The discovery project aimed to identify a digital solution for new and renewal taxi licensing applications. They have explored how a potential solution can be scaled rapidly at low cost to other licensing authorities, reducing cost and processing time, whilst enhancing the customer experience and public safety.

Licensing in the taxi trade is a key statutory responsibility of local government. Gateshead Council and their bid partners find that delivering license services is time-consuming for users and staff, often involving paper applications and repeated visits to council premises. Underpinning the taxi licensing service is the need to ensure public safety. The discovery project has explored digital solutions to improve public safety, through quicker decision making or information sharing with other authorities.

Project outputs

All Local Digital Fund discovery projects were asked to provide the following information at completion:

  • User research report
  • Benefits case
  • Recommendations for next steps

HTML versions of the project outputs can be viewed on the Digital Gateshead website.

Project timeline

April 2019 - discovery

‘Taxi licensing applications – fixing complexity, inefficiency and risk’ discovery delivers project outputs which are published on the Local Digital website.


Each project was assessed using these lenses by the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We have provided feedback directly to the project teams and this is a summary of what we shared with them.

It aims to be constructive for both the project team and any other organisation wishing to learn about the project or make use of the work done.

  • The project team undertook a number of different user research methodologies and had good responses from councils outside of the project. The project team should consider developing user needs driven personas based on the research collated as this might make findings more usable for others. The 98 responses received from the survey with local authorities give an indication that this project will be of interest to other local authorities.
  • The project team encountered difficulties in recruiting research participants and as a result conducted ‘guerilla research’ with taxi drivers at taxi ranks across the locations. However, no taxi drivers attended the co-design workshop. The team should consider making use of alternative recruiting methods in order to expand this user research to strengthen the recommendations made and validate the perceived barriers presented as outputs from the service scope workshop.
  • The benefits presented include a 20% adjustment for optimism bias. This has been used incorrectly, as the term ‘optimism bias’ should result in reduction in estimated benefits. The team should consider amending this and validating the detailed benefits data with more councils in order to strengthen the recommendations made.
  • The project considers a longer term vision for this work and makes appropriate recommendations. In addition, it proposes some changes that can be implemented right now. The team should consider further synthesis of their user research to more clearly define their use case to take forward.
  • The project team had a focus on skills and worked closely with their supplier to enable shadowing opportunities with their staff to help ensure that knowledge and skills were retained within the organisation. This provides a useful model for other councils looking to procure project support.
  • The project produced detailed process maps for all participating local authorities. They are likely to serve as examples of good practice for other local authorities.