In the face of industrial action and reduced staffing levels, the agency finds itself with a huge backlog of paper applications. MPs have grilled DVLA chief executive, Julie Lennard, about the delays.
Licence Applications Taking Six to 10 Weeks
The DVLA has faced controversy since January over its failure to deal with a severe COVID outbreak at its Swansea offices. From September last year to January 2021, more than 500 cases were reported. There have also been claims that staff were encouraged to turn off test-and-trace apps and return to work, even if they showed symptoms.
This, as well as grievances over pay and conditions has led to DVLA workers voting for strike action. A series of strikes, along with reduced staffing levels due to Welsh social distancing regulations, has meant that a large backlog of driving licence and other applications.
Back in January, Julie Lennard claimed that the turnaround time was six to eight weeks for postal applications for driving licences and vehicle registrations. Ms Lennard was called before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee to give evidence as to why the delay has increased to six to 10 weeks or, in some cases, even longer.
Ms Lennard said that, because of the country opening up and restrictions being eased, there has been a surge in the volumes of applications. Additionally, automatic extensions to the validity of UK driving licences in 2020 has now ended, resulting in double the usual number of applications.
Addressing the delays, Ms Lennard said, “Staff are coping incredibly well. I would say that the vast majority of staff are not taking part in industrial action; they are coming in and working incredibly hard. We have 500 people roughly every single weekend, with people doing overtime voluntarily. Staff here pride themselves on providing excellent customer service.”
Some Drivers Waiting Over Six Months for a Licence
This year, the DVLA has received over a million driving licence applications, and thousands of drivers are still waiting for their documents. Some provisional driving licence applicants claim to have waited more than six months for their licence. The DVLA says that all paper applications are being processed in the order they are received.
A DVLA spokesperson said, “Paper applications are taking on average, between six and ten weeks to process but there may be longer delays for more complex transactions such as those that require medical investigations.”
However, the agency says that its online services are not affected by the staff shortages and are running normally. So, wherever possible, you’re advised to apply for documents online.
Registering Your Personalised Number Plate
Fortunately, in most cases, when you buy a personalised number plate from us at CarReg, or you want to transfer or retain a registration number, you can use the DVLA’s online services. So, you shouldn’t experience any delay in being able to display your proud investment.