3 million Britons struggling with driver’s license delays since COVID-19 lockdown: MPs

Three million people who have applied for their driver’s license have experienced delays since the COVID-19 lockdown began, costing them some of their jobs and incomes, a parliamentary committee reveals. I was.

In its latest report released Friday, the House Accounts Committee (PAC) criticized the Drivers Licensing Agency (DVLA) for failing to maintain essential services during the pandemic.

Since April 2020, 3 million people have experienced delays and about 60 million calls went unanswered, the report said.

The Department of Transportation (DfT) has been accused of taking a “no-interference approach” and failing to ensure that the DVLA is using the latest working practices and the latest technology.

Labor MP Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said: many.

“Some of the DVLA’s operations are outdated, lacking a comprehensive strategy for modernization, and PAC is not confident they are prepared for the next crisis.

“When that happens, the most vulnerable customers are the most vulnerable customers whose driving is their lifeblood.

‘Serious impact’

According to the commission’s report, the DVLA’s delay in processing applications has had a “serious impact” on some people, particularly those with medical conditions that require the DVLA to determine their fitness to drive.

The report states: Others struggled to get car insurance, rented a car, or weren’t able to drive abroad.

“Some DVLA customers experienced isolation and deteriorating mental health as they were unable to lead normal daily lives without a valid driver’s license.”

The commission said the DVLA needs to “set up better systems to identify and expedite the processing of driver’s license applications whose customers are most impacted by delays.”

ineffective communication

The commission also criticized the DVLA’s “ineffective” communications, making many customers feel as though their applications were not progressing.

Customers have had “extreme difficulty” contacting DVLA’s call center to inquire about the progress of their applications during the pandemic.

According to the report, between April 2020 and March 2022, about 60 million driver license calls to the DVLA went unanswered, 94% of the total received.

The number of calls to DVLA answered more than halved from over 4 million in 2019-2020 alone to 3.4 million in the two years from April 2020 to March 2022 .

Decisions about medical conditions

The MP specifically criticized the DVLA’s ability to process claims from customers who notified them of relevant medical conditions.

The agency’s system for processing such applications is “slow, inefficient and in need of significant improvement,” the report said.

“The processing time for applications involving the DVLA making medical decisions is much longer than other applications, with many decisions taking more than a year,” the MP said.

The Commission recommended that the DfT should complete its strategic review of the system by the end of 2024 at the latest.

The ministry said it needed to work with the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Health Service, and medical professional associations to “fundamentally improve the way DVLAs and medical professionals exchange information.”

“Return to normal”

The opposition Liberal Democrats said the “shocking delay” showed DVLA’s customers were “disappointed on an industrial scale”.

Wera Hobhouse, the party’s transportation spokesperson, said:

“The government and the DVLA need to stay on top and make sure people don’t have to go through these unacceptable delays.”

In response, a DVLA spokesperson said: All standard paper applications have returned to normal turnaround times by May 2022.

“Our online services have worked well during the pandemic, and for the vast majority of our customers, doing business with DVLA would have been fine. I received my driver’s license in a day.

“During the pandemic, we issued more than 24 million driver licenses, most of which were issued within three business days.”

A DfT spokesperson said:

“Not only have the ministers been closely monitoring DVLA progress, but they have also provided practical support during the pandemic, such as establishing workplace COVID testing in Swansea and facilitating additional office space in Birmingham. .

“We will continue to support DVLA’s investments in developing and promoting online services, as we did before and during the pandemic.”

PA Media contributed to this report.