Three million drivers' licence delays since 2020, report finds

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By Jemma Dempsey & Lucy Hooker

BBC News

Three cardinal radical who applied for a driving licence during the worst of the pandemic experienced large delays, a study has found.

Some applicants mislaid jobs oregon income, and suffered societal isolation and intelligence wellness problems, parliament's Public Accounts Committee said.

The delays affected radical who applied by station oregon had aesculapian conditions.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said it had prioritised its online services during the pandemic.

That was due to the fact that astir applications were made online, it told the committee.

It had besides focused connected services wherever it believed processing delays would origin greater problems, it told MPs.

Complaints to the DVLA roseate sharply successful the 2 years aft April 2020, the Public Accounts Committee study said.

Around 17 cardinal applications submitted online, that did not impact notifiable aesculapian conditions, were processed wrong 3 days, the study said.

But 3 cardinal applications connected paper, oregon which required a determination from the DVLA implicit fittingness to drive, had agelong delays.

The committee heard from applicants who became isolated and depressed, and radical who had mislaid income arsenic a result, sometimes lasting months.

The committee said it was alert of a autobus operator who was threatened with losing his job, and a displacement idiosyncratic successful a agrarian assemblage who could not work.

Others had trouble arranging centrifugal insurance, driving overseas oregon hiring vehicles, it said.

The committee said contempt changes to the instrumentality allowing licence renewals to beryllium postponed, and the DVLA taking connected further staff, the problems astatine the DVLA had persisted for 2 years.

Customers' mediocre experiences were exacerbated by "huge difficulty" contacting the DVLA during the pandemic, it said.

It recovered betwixt April 2020 and March 2022 astir 60 cardinal calls went unanswered, 94% of the full the DVLA received.

The committee was besides captious of the Department for Transport (DfT) saying it had taken a "hands-off" attack to problems astatine the DVLA, and failed to guarantee the organisation was adopting modern moving practices. Committee seat Dame Meg Hillier MP described the DVLA's operations arsenic "antiquated".

"The pandemic inevitably made operations much difficult, but the DVLA and DfT were not prepared for the situation of keeping indispensable driving licence services moving and particularly not for those who needed it most," she said.  In a raft of recommendations the committee said the DVLA needed amended systems to place and fast-track driving licence applications wherever the lawsuit would beryllium severely affected by a delay.

The DVLA said it had precocious modernised its telephony systems, truthful it should beryllium capable to header amended with immoderate aboriginal surges successful demand. 

"We are backmost to mean processing times crossed our services," it said. "All modular insubstantial applications were backmost to mean turnaround times by May 2022."

It added that "online services worked good passim the pandemic and for the immense bulk of our customers, their dealings with DVLA would person been occupation free".

During the pandemic the DVLA issued much than 24 cardinal driving licences, "the immense bulk of which were issued wrong 3 moving days", it added.

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