The consultation, which closes on 8 January 2016, includes proposals to consider private testing of HGVs and look at ways to reduce the shortage of large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers, adding that this is one of the largest issues facing the haulage industry today. It also said that streamlining the application process and improving information sharing between agencies could help LGV drivers with the required qualifications to obtain their licence and start work sooner.
The review of motoring services also includes new proposals to improve the driving test and to review fees for all services provided by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), change providers for some services and combine services.
The consultation is intended to streamline public services and save the taxpayer money.
In response, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said the Government’s consultation on a new strategy for its three motoring agencies is a positive step that recognises the challenges faced by commercial freight and fleet operators.
Karen Dee, FTA’s director of policy, said: “The requirements of our members are frequently poorly understood or overlooked and we need to improve the way in which the agencies and their systems interact with each other and with their customers in order to reduce the burden of compliance on our industry.”
The FTA added that its response will urge the Government to be radical in its approach to ensure the desired outcome is achieved. Dee said improvements to the way the agencies operate could have a significant impact on driver shortage as there are currently problems with the processing of vocational licences, especially where medical investigations are required. This prevents drivers who are medically fit from getting back to work quickly.
“Our industry is experiencing a serious skills shortage and processing delays mean both that vacancies aren’t being filled effectively and that some existing drivers are prevented from working. We welcome Government’s acknowledgement of this problem but believe urgent changes are needed to improve the service,” she said.
The FTA has been working closely with DVSA to identify ways to target operators who break the rules without undermining compliant businesses. The association welcomes the proposal for Earned Recognition and will work with the agency to bring it forward as soon as possible.
The FTA said it also believes a government suggestion to consider private testing of HGVs could help to tackle the current problem of delays in securing a vehicle test slot. The association said it supported the ATF system which has been introduced in recent years but believes there is a case for this to go further to provide more flexibility.
Dee said: “The motoring agencies provide a wide range of services which are essential to freight operators. Many of these are funded by fees paid by operators themselves, rather than by the taxpayer, so it is essential to ensure that they provide efficient, value for money and affordable services.”