Minicab drivers have called on the Mayor of London to put the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) “on hold” amid fears it could cost them thousands.

These calls came yesterday when the London Assembly economy committee meeting met with minicab firms and drivers to look at pressures causing their costs to rise.

Private hire companies and drivers are worried about the cost of operating in the low emissions zone, but also higher licensing fees and an English test for drivers.

The ULEZ means drivers will be made to pay a £12.50 charge or buy a vehicle that meets certain emissions standards when it comes into force on April 19.

Uber driver Abu Ashrafuzzaman estimates he will spend £6,000 a year paying to drive in central London when the ULEZ is introduced.

Mr Ashrafuzzaman said: “I will have to pay that from my own earnings and I am worried about how I will be able to do that. The ULEZ will impact drivers like myself who aren’t earning much.

“I believe that it is discriminatory, unfair and nothing but a stealth tax. The ULEZ charge needs to be put on hold.”

He added: “We can’t afford the ULEZ compliant cars and even if we could there are not enough charging points.”

Minicab drivers and operators also expressed concerns that increased licensing fees were adding to their financial burden, with compulsory English tests another possible cost.

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 – depending on their size – can expect to pay between £2,000 and £464,000 for a five-year licence.

Greg Mendoza, the vice president of international operations at Carey Worldwide Chauffeured Services, said: “In an already competitive market we will need to increase our turnover by thousands of pounds just to afford the hike in fees.

“We will have to pass these costs onto customers to make sure profits exceed costs but that is not so easy with the competition in London. Until we will can put our costs up we will be making a loss.”

Minicab drivers wanting to renew their licence will also be forced to pass an English test as of April 30.

But Sue Flohr, the head of policy at the British Dyslexia Association, expressed concerns that dyslexic drivers might not be able to pass the test and so lose their licence.

She branded the test “unfit for purpose” and “totally inappropriate”.

Ms Flohr also says for drivers to prove they are dyslexic they must pay £500 to take another test to prove this but that would only mean they would get additional time to take the minicab driver English test and still might not pass it.