Minister says that agency will push on with digitisation work to reduce administrative burden
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will continue with a programme of work to develop and promote the use of digital services, in a bid to reduce the administrative burden caused by the 60,000 items of mail it receives on a typical day – the processing of which has been impacted by repeated strike action over staff safety fears.
During the pandemic, the Swansea-based agency has been required to work with “a reduced number of operational staff on site, to allow for social distancing”, according to Rachel Maclean, a minister at the Department for Transport.
Operations have also been impacted by a Covid outbreak in December and repeated strike action throughout this year so far including, most recently, a three-day walkout of 700 staff that began on Tuesday.
The industrial action – which the PCS union has warned could go on for “months” – has taken place over staff’s concerns about coronavirus safety arrangements. About one in three of the agency’s 6,000 staff were still required to go into the office during lockdown.
This has contributed to the accumulation of a total, as of earlier this month, of 800,000 items of mail that have yet to be processed, with about a further 60,000 arriving each day which, according to Maclean, “must be dealt with in person”.
The processing time for drivers renewing a registration certificate or driving licence via postal application is six weeks, the minister added, in answer to a written parliamentary question from Conservative MP for Southport Damien Moore.
Although this is likely to be longer for “drivers with a medical condition, [who] may experience further delays because the DVLA is often reliant on receiving information or test results from medical professionals before a licence can be issued, to ensure drivers can meet the required medical standards”.
To help increase capacity, the DVLA has rented an additional office building and extended the opening hours of its contact centre. In an attempt to further ease the administrative backlog, since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the agency has also focused on boosting its digital services proposition, and this work will continue – alongside public campaigns to encourage as many people as possible to use online tools.
“The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a registration certificate or a driving licence. Motorists are strongly advised to use these channels, where possible,” Maclean said.
“During the pandemic, to help streamline processes and improve workflow, the DVLA has accelerated the development of additional online services to reduce paper applications and supported their take up through a publicity campaign. Further digital service enhancements are underway.