- Uber’s UK revenue and profits jumped before the company was banned in London
- The ride-hailing company is to appeal the ban and sent its chief executive to London to speak to regulators
- Uber has warned against major risks to its business for the first time, such as the classification of its drivers as workers and regulation
Uber’s UK operation saw a massive increase in business and staff count during 2016 before London’s transport regulator refused to renew its licence to operate in the capital.
Uber’s pre-tax profits in the UK climbed 65% to £3 million in 2016, while revenue was up 59% to £37 million, according to newly filed accounts in the UK. The number of staff almost doubled to 199, mainly because of “increased demand for services.”
According to the accounts, Uber calculated a corporate tax liability of just £663,250. Once certain expenses were applied, the estimated bill on profits came down to £551,174.
A wage bill of £10.1 million shows the average Uber UK staffer earned £53,000 a year.
Uber’s results in the UK don’t actually show how much money it makes from running its service here, and the number of rides people take. Instead, all revenue from rides is booked through Uber’s Netherlands HQ, Uber BV, as part of an elaborate tax setup. Uber’s UK arm is a subsidiary of Uber BV which provides “local marketing and support” to the Uber Group.
Uber UK warned for the first time about major risks to its business, such as worker rights for drivers.
The company is fighting a legal battle in the UK over whether its drivers should be classified as self-employed contractors, or workers with rights to holiday pay and minimum wage. In its accounts, Uber warned that the litigation could negatively impact its business in the UK.
And Jolyon Maugham, a barrister for Devereux Chambers who has issued a legal challenge Uber for alleged unpaid tax, has calculated another big liability: around £1 billion in unpaid VAT.
Ultimately, Uber said Uber BV will bear any costs, rather than its UK operations.
Uber lost its licence to operate in London on 22 September, after the capital’s regulator Transport for London decided it wasn’t “fit and proper.”
The ride-hailing firm can still dispatch cabs to London passengers, but must lodge an appeal against the decision by 13 October. And Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, flew into London this week for an emergency meeting with Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown, with both sides describing the encounter as “constructive.”
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