DVLA admits 168,000 drivers with well being circumstances ready for licences

Virtually 170,000 motorists with well being circumstances are ready for driving licences to be issued as civil servants battle to clear a backlog of practically 50,000 purposes that constructed up in the course of the pandemic.

DVLA’s chief govt, Julie Lennard, confirmed in proof to MPs on Thursday that 168,000 medical driving licence purposes, together with new licences and renewals, have been pending as of 23 November.

The company’s goal is to cut back the variety of purposes within the “dwell queue” to its regular degree of 120,000 by January on the newest, that means that it now has about 48,000 additional kinds to course of. It had beforehand hoped to clear the backlog by September this yr. Of these, about half can’t be accomplished till the DVLA receives additional data, similar to medical doctors’ reviews, it stated.

The backlog has decreased since February, when the dwell queue peaked at 333,000; Lennard stated the division has made “actually good progress”.

It has not reinstated its pre-pandemic goal of finishing 90% of purposes inside 90 days, and couldn’t present steering on present common ready occasions. The timeframe will depend on the complexity of the applicant’s medical issues, the DVLA stated.

Between April 2020 and September 2022, of the medical licensing selections that the company made, 36% took longer than 90 working days, and 6% took longer than 250 working days. In August, the Guardian reported the case of 1 driver who had been ready six months for a brand new licence.

Lennard gave her proof on the backlog to the general public accounts committee following the publication of a report by the Nationwide Audit Workplace earlier this month.

Through the pandemic, the DVLA’s means to course of paper kinds, which account for 30% of all purposes, was decreased as fewer employees have been in a position to work from its workplace in Swansea. Industrial motion in 2021 additionally contributed to the delays, it stated.

The variety of driving licence purposes in progress, together with each medical and customary, peaked at 1.1m in September 2021, the NAO report confirmed.

Between April 2020 and September 2022, of the 24.3m purposes that DVLA accomplished, 3.3m took longer than anticipated. The vast majority of these, 2.4m, have been paper-based peculiar licence purposes.

It returned to its common deadlines for processing customary driving licence purposes by Could this yr, and decreased the quantity in progress to typical ranges by July. Nevertheless, medical licence purposes are nonetheless being delayed.

“All of the issues which can be in our management are utterly again to regular … That is the one space that’s not totally in our management,” Lennard informed MPs.

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