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Petition Inquiry into the DVLA’s performance during the Covid-19 pandemic

In my view the DVLA are not fit-for-purpose. An inquiry needs to be held into their performance during the pandemic. This should lead to more efficient customer service, treatment of those with medical issues, and more.

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Delays such as a 6 month wait for a medical restricted licence to be reissued are completely unacceptable.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 September 2021

The DVLA provides regular updates on performance and progress to Department for Transport ministers and it has been fully scrutinised in two Transport Select Committee evidence sessions in 2021.

The DVLA has an incredibly strong track record of outstanding public service and has quickly adapted to continue to provide essential public services during the pandemic. Last year, the DVLA issued 8.8m driving licences, 16.3m vehicle registration certificates and made more than 500,000 medical licensing decisions. The DVLA’s contact centre answered more than seven million queries including 4.8 million calls, 1.5 million webchats and more than 950,000 emails.

More than 90% of customer interactions with the DVLA are carried out online and these online services have continued to work as normal throughout the pandemic. Motorists who transact online usually receive their documents within a few days. Motorists are strongly encouraged to use the DVLA’s online services whenever possible as this remains the easiest and quickest way to access most of the DVLA’s services. However, not everyone wants or is able to use online services and the DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be opened manually by DVLA staff working on site. Unfortunately, delays have been caused in processing paper applications due to the DVLA having had fewer staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements, industrial action by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and a significantly increased demand for its services.

The DVLA has helped to keep drivers on the road throughout the pandemic by issuing one-year licences to lorry and bus drivers aged 45 and over without them having to submit the usual medical report if the driver has been unable to get an appointment with their doctor to conduct a medical examination. Also, all driving licences expiring between 1 February and 31 December were automatically renewed for 11 months. The DVLA has also launched ten new online services to make things easier for customers, including online tachograph applications and change of address and duplicate V5C (logbook) services.

From 6 April to 31 August the PCS union held a series of strikes at the DVLA. The cumulative impact of industrial action and having had fewer staff on site to ensure social distancing in line with Welsh Government requirements has meant that the time taken to process paper applications has increased. PCS specifically targeted the drivers medical section for a month-long strike in August.

The drivers medical area has also been affected by the massive pressure the pandemic has placed on the NHS. It is a legal requirement for drivers to notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of any health condition that may affect their fitness to drive. Following a notification, the DVLA must assess a driver’s fitness to drive which can often involve seeking further information from a GP or other health professional involved in the driver’s care. Guidance from the British Medical Association at the start of the pandemic advised GP practices to deprioritise non-essential work. This has only very recently been updated to say previously deprioritised work may need to be reviewed, including DVLA medical checks which help maintain people’s wellbeing and livelihoods.

The DVLA has put in place a range of mitigating measures to reduce the backlog of paper transactions, including the introduction of additional online services at pace in response to the pandemic, which has helped to reduce the number of postal applications received and processed manually by DVLA staff. DVLA staff are working evenings and at weekends and additional staff have been recruited to tackle the backlogs. The DVLA is also securing additional office space to provide surge capacity for medical applications, as well as to provide resilience and business continuity going forward.

Department for Transport

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Other parliamentary business

MPs question Government Ministers, officials, and the PCS union on the work of the DVLA

On Wednesday 21 July, MPs on the Transport Committee held an evidence session to consider the difficulties facing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), including the current backlog of cases awaiting processing.

Watch the session: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e13d8e44-6479-459a-89ab-be2a147eef4f
Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2613/pdf/

During the session, the Committee questioned:

  • Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS
  • Sarah Evans, DVLA Branch Chair, PCS Union
  • Julie Lennard, Chief Executive Officer, DVLA
  • Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, Department for Transport

This session is the Committee’s second evidence session with the DVLA this year. MPs spoke to the Chief Executive following an outbreak of covid-19 at DVLA headquarters in Swansea.

What is the Transport Committee?

The Transport Committee is a cross-party group of MPs appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the work of the Department for Transport, the Government department responsible for the English transport network.

The Department is also responsible for a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have not been devolved to the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, or Northern Ireland Executive.

Find out more about the Transport Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/153/transport-committee/
Follow the Committee on Twitter for real-time updates on its work: https://twitter.com/CommonsTrans

MPs publish correspondence about the work of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

Following an evidence session on the work of the DVLA in July, the Transport Committee has published correspondence from the Chief Executive of the DVLA and the Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, providing further information MPs asked for during the session.

Read the letter from Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7192/documents/75759/default/

Read the letter from Julie Lennard, Chief Executive of the DVLA: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7193/documents/75760/default/

The correspondence provides information about application turnaround times, vocational driver licensing, calls to the DVLA contact centre, unmet call demands, and industrial action.

The Transport Committee's evidence session on the work of the DVLA

On Wednesday 21 July, MPs on the Transport Committee held an evidence session to consider the difficulties facing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), including the current backlog of cases awaiting processing.

Watch the session: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e13d8e44-6479-459a-89ab-be2a147eef4f

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2613/pdf/

What is the Transport Committee?

The Transport Committee is a cross-party group of MPs appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the work of the Department for Transport, the Government department responsible for the English transport network.

The Department is also responsible for a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have not been devolved to the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, or Northern Ireland Executive.

Find out more about the Transport Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/153/transport-committee/

Follow the Committee on Twitter for real-time updates on its work: https://twitter.com/CommonsTrans

Petitions Committee requests a revised response from the Government

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) have considered the Government’s response to this petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response.

When the Committee have received a revised response from the Government, this will be published on the website and you will receive an email.

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