Transport for London is working on policies to reduce the growth of private hire vehicles (PHVs) like Uber – including plans to remove the Congestion Charge exemption as TFL responds to “changes in the private hire industry”.

PHVs have been exempt from paying the congestion charge since 2003. TFL’s policy to force drivers into paying the charge moved forward this week.

The plans were published in TFL’s new policy statement on private hire services in the capital, in response to challenges including “how to apply existing licensing legislation” and “managing the impact of more vehicles moving around the city”.

The statement avoided naming Uber, despite TFL declining to renew its licence, resulting in an indefinite future for its 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London.

GMB Union has warned that if private hire firms are made to pay the charge, businesses will have to leave the capital. The union claimed London’s taxi services should be exempt because they are a form of public transport.

The GMB drivers’ union regional organiser, Steve Garelick, questions whether TFL is using the scheme to make up for cuts to its budget.

 TFL’s other measures, which will be put before the TFL Board for approval in March, include a formal English language requirement for drivers, more “robust” hire and reward insurance requirements and guaranteed fare estimates for customers.