Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence




Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty

  1.  In his March 1999 Budget the Chancellor announced the introduction of a system of graduated VED to encourage a cleaner environment. The first stage introduced from 1 June 1999 a reduced rate of £100 for cars with engines up to 1100 cc. The Agency initiated a special one off exercise to give keepers of small cars the opportunity, if they wished, to take out a new licence at the reduced rate from 1 June and offset the cost by the value of the old licence at the same time.

  2.  Further reforms were announced in the Chancellor's March 2000 Budget. New cars registered from 1 March 2001 will be charged VED based on carbon dioxide [CO2 ] emissions and fuel type. These changes form part of the Government's policy to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and improve local air quality. For vehicles registered before March 2001 the existing threshold band scheme will be extended from 1100cc to 1200cc. In addition a special rebate scheme will be implemented in 2001. This scheme will require the Agency to pay rebates of up to £55 for some 2.2 million small cars, with engine sizes between 1100cc and 1200cc. This will bepayable to keepers who took out licences at the standard rate between March 2000 and February 2001.

  3.  Treasury has the policy lead on graduated VED and its independent advisors are quality assuring the work undertaken by the Agency. Publicity for the scheme is considered essential to its success and focus groups are being used to test public reaction to the publicity material.

Motorists' Friend

  4.  The main objective of the Motorists' Friend initiative is to use the DVLA database more extensively to assist the motoring public. Measures being pursued include additional mileage information, a partnership with the private sector to facilitate a consumer research survey and streamlining procedures for motorists importing a vehicle from other parts ofthe EU.

Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team

  5.  The police are one of the most important customers of DVLA services. DVLA is working closely with the police in the fight against car crime.

  6.  The Government has set a target of reducing vehicle crime by 30 per cent over the next five years. The driving force in achieving this target will be VCRAT of which DVLA is a member. One of the "task groups" set up under VCRAT has been specifically addressing DVLA issues and, in particular, how the registration system can be tightened up to prevent abuse.

  7.  The Agency has bid for space for three starters in the Home Office Vehicle Crime Bill:

    —  registration of heavy trailers;

    —  presentation of registration document V5 at relicensing in the absence of a computerised relicensing reminder form;

    —  registration of number plate outlets.

  8.  Two associated measures— mandatory mileage recording and consumer hotline for seriously damaged vehicles—are to be taken forward by way of the Regulatory Reform Order.

Automated First Registration and Licensing (AFRL)

  9.  The AFRL scheme enables franchised car dealers to register and first license new cars and light vans at their dealerships through electronic links between dealer/manufacture systems and DVLA. This provides customers with a one stop shop facility. The system continues to be rolled out to manufacturers and their dealerships. Over 3,400 dealer premises provide the AFRL facility and most major car manufacturers are now in the scheme. The service offers additional benefits to the customer, as it is available Monday to Saturday and also on Bank Holidays.

Fleets Relicensing

  10.  The Fleets Scheme allows large fleet operators to renew vehicle excise licences by electronic data interchange with DVLA. On current forecasts the numbers of vehicles in the scheme is set to increase to 700,000 by March 2001.

Electronic Data Interchange Links [EDIL]

  11.  Insurance, finance and mileage checking companies use EDIL to obtain vehicle keeper details from DVLA. There are 32 companies currently using the system with total usage volumes averaging 50,000 enquiries each month and this is expected to grow.

Electronic Relicensing for General Customers

  12.  The Agency is developing projects which seek to extend electronic methods of relicensing to the general public. DVLA has been working with an insurance company and piloting the feasibility of telephone relicensing. Customer reaction has been very favourable. Rollout to a wider audience depends on the introduction of national motor insurance and MOT databases, which is some years away.

Vehicles System Software [VSS]

  13.  The Agency's new vehicle system went live in October 1999, replacing a legacy system that was a quarter of a century old. As to be expected, with a system of this size and complexity there have been teething problems. The new, real time, on-line updated system provides a modern platform on which to build further improvements and add new developments. The new system also improves electronic methods for registration (AFRL), relicensing (Fleets) and data transfer.

VED Enforcement

  14.  Over recent years the emphasis in enforcement has shifted from case completion to deterrence, ie inducing motorists to relicense their vehicles. As well as the revenue implications, the Agency sees enforcement activities as vital in maintaining the accuracy of the vehicles record on which the police depend for all vehicle-related criminal investigations.

  15.  The 1999 roadside survey indicated that evasion had dropped from 4.1 per cent in 1994 to 3.9 per cent. It also showed that evaders are travelling shorter distances and less often. They may be wary of the enforcement effort and less prepared to take the risk of travelling unlicensed.


  16.  During 1999-2000, the first year when a full national scheme was in place, around 21,000 vehicles were clamped/impounded. Over 7,000 of these released were released on payment of fees and 10,000 were disposed of mainly by crushing. The remainder are awaiting either collection or destruction.

  17.  In addition, over 62,000 motorists voluntarily relicensed their vehicles during the year generating £8.8 million in additional revenue and a further £0.7 million from fees and revenue. The scheme has the strong support of the police (who we frequently involved) and have been well received by the public.

Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR)

  18.  The Agency is to commence a pilot using ANPR systems to detect unlicensed vehicles on public roads early in the New Year. The aim of the pilot is to test the digital video evidence in the courts. A highly publicised national scheme will follow in the Spring when van based ANPR units will be deployed across the country. For the first time the Agency will be able to detect moving unlicensed vehicles in use on the road.

  19.  Eleven police forces have agreed to provide the Agency with named VED offence reports using their own ANPRs and regional unlicensed vehicle databases provided monthly by the Agency. Where unlicensed vehicles pass the police ANPR units, an alarm is raised and patrol officers are instructed to stop the vehicle and interview the driver. The Agency benefits through the provision of high quality named offence reports, while the police often detect other offences.

Speeding/Red Light Cameras

  20.  Thirteen police forces are operating a scheme where motorists caught by police or red light cameras are pursued separately by the Agency where the vehicles are also unlicensed.



  21.  The second EC Directive on driver licensing requires that all UK driving licences issued from July 2001 bear a photograph of the holder. The Agency phased in the card gradually, commencing with first full exchange licences in July 1998 and extending to include all types of applications by September 1999. The Ministerial concession to continue issuing paper licences on an exceptional basis ended on 31 March 2000. From 1 April 2000 every licence has been issued in a photocard format. Over 5 million photocards have been issued to date.

  22.  From 1 April 1999, original documentation such as a passport or birth certificate has been required in support of an application to provide evidence of date of birth. A certified photograph is also required as per United Kingdom Passport Agency [UKPA] procedures. A pilot identity checking service for drivers who are UK passport holders has been introduced at 218 Post Office Network Banking Branch offices (shortly to increase to 582 offices), while a checking service for non-UK passport holders began on 3 April at 10 local offices.

  23.  Discussions have been held withUKPA about the implementation of links which will enable holders of new style current British passports to apply for a photocard licence without the need to need to submit the passport to DVLA for examination. And progress on this will be dependent on the provision of legislative cover.

Drivers Medical

  24.  The Agency deals with 295,000 transactions a year assessing a driver's medical fitness to drive. Over recent years, the casework has increased in complexity and productivity has been affected by a number of issues. The situation is being tackled by upgrading and expanding the electronic casework system, recruiting extra medical advisors and administrative staff, managing the telephone calls using call centre equipment and practices and introducing changes to the processes.

Insulin Treated Diabetics

  25.  The British Diabetic Association secured a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into diabetes and driving. The report of this Select Committee was issued on 7 March 2000. It made various recommendations, including a requirement for lay members to attend the meetings of the Secretary of State's Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes and the introduction treated diabetes.

  26.  DVLA is now considering how the Select Committee's recommendations can be implemented. The Agency is seeking information from other EU states on the way they treat such cases. Meanwhile the Diabetes UK campaign on individual assessment for diabetics who wish to drive Group II vehicles is now winding down.


Post Office Network Banking [PONB]

  27.  DVLA has a high level of coverage for over-the-counter provision of local services. This is mainly provided through a network of 4,000 post offices. The Agency and PONB has a three year contract for delivery of vehicle relicensing and other related services from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2002. The contract includes the provision of a new relicensing service in Northern Ireland with a network of 66 post offices.

  28.  PONB has committed to introducing new channels for delivery of service (in line with Modernising Government) which are designed to increase the choice and improve the service to DVLA customers. These include channels, such as telephone, kiosk and Internet relicensing, together with other payment methods.

Local Offices [LOs]

  29.  A limited range of specialist transactions is provided by DVLA's own network of 40 local offices. These are primarily engaged in VED enforcement, where proximity to magistrates' courts and the local police is important. Local Office staff are responsible for VED prosecutions. They also provide a range of specialised over the counter services. A review of local office service delivery options established the case for extending their use to provide more data capture facilities at the counter rather than at DVLA's main office in Swansea. It is likely that market research (currently being undertaken) will reveal the need for an extension of the current range of transactions and services provided by the LO network.

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Prepared 14 May 2001