Don Foster MP*


Bath MP Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat Shadow DTLR Secretary, today released Government figures showing that formal complaints to the DVLA about driving licences have risen by 276% since 1997. Complaints about the processing of applications have multiplied 65 times since 1997 and nearly 18 times over the last year.

Main ImageDon Foster MP said:

“This is another shambles at the Transport Department. It is hard to credit the Transport Minister’s claim that there has been continuous improvement at the DVLA since the new licences were introduced.

“These figures are only the tip of the iceberg. They only reflect formal complaints. The DVLA’s own survey for 2000 - 2001 showed that 12% of customers did not find the application process satisfactory. 270,000 people did not have their documentation returned correctly.

“The Transport Department is clearly struggling with the management and computerisation changes it has had to make since 1998.

“Stephen Byers has to get on top of this problem. It shows just how far the breakdown in the Transport Department extends.”

Notes to editors:

• A Written Parliamentary answer to Don Foster MP of 25th March 2002, reveals the total number of formal customer complaints related to the process by which driving licences applications are processed (PQ: 45426).

• Analysis of the figures provided in the answer by the DTLR (Mr Jamieson) are provided below:

DVLA Formal Customer Complaints

1997-98 1998-99 1999-00 2000-01 % increase 97/98 - 00/01 % Increase 99/00 - 00/01

TOTAL number of complaints 242 378 930 909 +276% -2.3%
No. of Complaints re. Processing Time/ Procedures 5 6 18 322 +6340% +1689%
No. of Complaints re. Documents lost 6 7 46 154 +2467% +235%

• These reveal that:

- The total number of formal complaints have increased fourfold since 1997.

- Complaints about applications - in terms of the time taken and way in which applications are handled - have multiplied 65 times since 1997; and multiplied nearly 18 times over the last year.

• The total number of complaints may appear low compared against the total number of applications - there are 5.4 million driving licences applications every year, but these figures provided relate only to formal complaints.

Cabinet Office guidance on dealing with complaints states how: “as well as formal complaints, you should have a simple system to deal with informal ones. Often informal complaints are concerns and comments that are raised orally and are dealt with immediately on the spot.” (How to draw up a national charter (2nd Edition): April 2000)

• The fact that a much larger proportion of customers have experienced difficulties with driver licence applications is revealed from the DVLA 2000-01 survey of customer satisfaction (DVLA Annual Report 2001). This reveals:

- 12% did not find the photocard licence application process satisfactory: This equates to a total of 648,000 applicants.
- 5% of documentation was not returned correctly to customers: This equates to a total of 270,000 applicants.

Parliamentary Written Questions

25 Mar 2024 : Column: 680W
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many complaints were received by (a) the DVLA, (b) his Department and (c) other bodies with reference to the process by which licence applications are processed by the DVLA, broken down by the nature of each complaint, in each year since 1997. [45426]

Mr. Jamieson: Available information about the number of formal complaints received about the DVLA driving licence application process is shown as follows.

• Table 1 shows the number of formal customer complaints received by DVLA broken down by the nature of the complaint.
• Table 2 shows the number of official correspondence cases received by DVLA, which may include complaints, but detailed analysis figures are not available. Of these, private secretary office cases are received via the Department. Further analysis of Table 2 data is not available without a special exercise at disproportionate cost. DVLA receive 5.4 million driving licence applications every year.
• The Department and DVLA have no information on complaints received by other bodies.

Table 1: DVLA formal customer complaints
Complaint category 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01
Driving licence applications
Non receipt of a driving licence 48 59 130 92
Other driving licence complaints 153 227 551 139
Drivers medical complaint 25 75 149 174
Documents lost at DVLA 6 7 46 154
Processing time/procedures(40) 5 6 18 322
DVLA forms 5 4 36 28

Total 242 378 930 909
(40) 1997-98 to 1999-2000 data are for both driver and vehicle complaints.
Table 2: Official correspondence (which may be complaints)
Case type 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01
Private secretary office 232 253 510 905
MP direct 356 441 996 1,101
The figures are shown in financial years.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent changes there have been in the (a) management, (b) computerisation and (c) other aspects of the DVLA related to the process by which licence applications are processed; and if he will make a statement. [45413]

Mr. Jamieson: The second EC directive on driver licensing resulted in significant changes to the management, computerisation and other aspects of DVLA's processes relating to the issue of driving licences. Prior to July 1998 drivers received paper licences. From this point photocard licences were introduced on a phased basis. All licences issued by DVLA are now in this form.
The changes have meant that photographs and signatures are captured electronically for reproduction on the new style licence. As it now contains a photograph identity checking procedures have been tightened up considerably, compared with those in place for the issue of paper licences. Ministers decided that from April 1999 identity documentation should be accepted to support identity.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the process by which licence applications are processed by the DVLA; what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to make this process more effective; and if he will make a statement. [45412]

Mr. Jamieson: The process associated with the issue of driving licences has been the subject of continuous review and improvement since photocards were introduced in July 1998. Holders of UK passports and those in receipt of state retirement pensions can now have their applications checked at some 750 post offices with the documents returned immediately, thereby reducing the need to send their documents direct to Swansea.

The introduction of electronic interchange of information about identity between DVLA and UK Passport Services is being actively explored. New versions of forms and leaflets are introduced regularly taking customers views into account, which has reduced the rate of return of applications significantly.

This article published: 18/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


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