DVLA officials to be quizzed by MPs over driving licence delays

Guardian Money has highlighted the problem, with some people waiting more than six months for documents

Last modified on Wed 7 Jul 2021 10.32 EDT

MPs are to grill officials from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about the “serious delays” in processing applications for driving licences after the problem was highlighted by the Guardian.

The transport committee said its session later this month followed concerns from motorists, trainee drivers and lorry drivers about long delays in receiving documents.

Guardian Money has been inundated in recent weeks with complaints from people trying to renew licences, change address details or have previously revoked licences restored.

Some have been waiting more than six months and have described having to put their lives on hold while they awaited vital documents. Many of those affected have been contacting their members of parliament desperate for help. On 5 July, a parliamentary question revealed the average turnaround time was between six and 10 weeks.

The DVLA has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with the Public and Commercial Services Union about Covid-related safety at its offices in Swansea, south Wales, which has led to a series of strikes, typically lasting three days each week.

The committee said the agency was apparently experiencing serious delays in processing paper-based applications for driving licences and other key documents.

The problems have created “significant adverse consequences” for people who submitted photo identification such as passports to support their applications, the MPs said.

It will be the committee’s second evidence session with the DVLA this year after the chief executive, Julie Lennard, was questioned about a Covid outbreak at the Swansea headquarters.

At that hearing, Lennard assured MPs that, on the whole, services were running “extremely well” and “not far below normal figures”.

The committee’s chairman, Huw Merriman, said: “Along with colleagues in parliament, I’ve received pleas for help from constituents desperate to further applications or to retrieve essential documentation from the DVLA.

“Those constituents include coach drivers who require vehicle certification to return to work, learners awaiting probation licences and people who urgently need their photo identification for work or immigration purposes.

“Excessive delays are not just inconvenient, they are affecting daily life. We have invited the key figures to an evidence session to get to the bottom of this issue and understand what needs to be done.”

The committee said it would seek to understand the difficulties facing the DVLA, the scale of any problems and the steps open to it to improve the situation.

Witnesses at the session will include representatives from the DVLA, the Department for Transport and the PCS union.

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