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

Submitted by Simon Vincent on Friday 21st May 2021

Published on Wednesday 26th May 2021

Current status: Closed

Closed: Friday 26th November 2021

Signatures: 12,284

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Covid ~ Covid-19 ~ Covid-19 pandemic ~ delayed ~ Delays ~ DVLA ~ Held ~ Medic ~ Medical ~ month ~ Pandemic

Petition Action

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

Petition Details

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.

Additional Information

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

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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Tuesday 19th October 2021

There are no plans to hold an inquiry into DVLA’s performance which has been fully scrutinised this year in two Transport Select Committee sessions. Ministers are also provided with regular updates.

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

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586770)

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