The Government has announced that the abolition of the driving licence counterpart is now to be delayed until 8 June 2015; FTA has responded by saying that the delay will “give DVLA time to work with industry to develop an effective online solution for employers who have to check hundreds – or even thousands – of drivers’ licenses a year.”
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stated that postponing the removal date of the counterpart will provide ‘breathing space’ to industry, and allow time for a suitable ‘tried and tested’ online system to be in place.
FTA was responsible for convincing the Government to delay plans to abolish the paper counterpart to the driving licence until an online system suitable for businesses’ needs has been developed.
Karen Dee – FTA Director of Policy commented:
“FTA knew that the 1 January removal date had been delayed, but we were waiting for an indication of when the driving licence counterpart would actually be abolished. We had voiced concerns that the new date would be rushed and would not allow any significant re-development of the systems that businesses were expected to use to carry out critical safety checks on their drivers.
“FTA was given assurances by the DVLA that the removal would not happen until such a time that an alternative was in place that satisfied the requirements of FTA Business. Today’s announcement of 8 June 2015 demonstrates that Ministers have listened to industry’s concerns, and we look forward to working with DVLA to develop a system which is fit for purpose."
The Association had previously expressed its concern that DVLA’s proposed replacement relied upon individual drivers logging into the ‘View Driver Record’ system and printing off a copy of their counterpart details which they can give to their employer. The employer would then have had to verify the information being provided within 48 hours by also going online. Whilst this process may work for some businesses, FTA members who often employ many thousands of drivers and check license’s up to three times a year would find this process both time consuming and costly.
Businesses’ which operate commercial vehicles are required under the terms of their operator’s licence, to check regularly that all their drivers – including those they don’t employ directly such as agency drivers – hold the proper entitlements to drive the appropriate vehicle and have not been suspended or banned.
The initial announcement to remove the counterpart as part of the Government’s drive to reduce unnecessary burden to business in 2011 was supported by the FTA on the condition that a suitable online replacement agreed by business users was in place prior to its removal.
Ms Dee continued:
“This proposal came out of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ intended to identify areas where administration and bureaucracy could be reduced. But the solution DVLA came up with would actually increase the administrative process of checking an employee had a valid driving licence. FTA members are keen to have electronic solutions to administrative processes – but they have to be right, and they have to make the job easier, quicker and cheaper.”