DVLA delays: call for licence extensions as complaints flood in | Motoring

Motorists left for months without a valid driving licence are calling on the government to automatically extend dates for a year, and help clear the backlog, as complaints about the DVLA continue to pour in.

Since Guardian Money highlighted last week how the agency was taking months to process licence renewals and address exchanges we have heard from more exasperated customers, some of whom face losing their jobs if vital ID documents or licences are not returned soon.

Those whose licence was revoked have described endless waits to get it back and have put their lives on hold as a result because they are not legally allowed to drive until the new document arrives.

The DVLA claimed last week that applications requiring a manual intervention were taking six weeks to process, but that applications made via its website were working normally.

“Nonsense,” cried a number of people who contacted Guardian Money this week, some of whom have been waiting a year or more for their application to be processed. While lots of people making online driving licence renewals have reported receiving them back in record time, others have reported long delays, including some new applicants for provisional licences.

Last week it was reported that 800,000 letters are waiting to be opened at the DVLA’s Swansea offices with a further 60,000 arriving each day. Workers were again on strike for three days this week, in a long-running dispute over Covid working conditions.

The complaints to Guardian Money this week included one from a 47-year-old widowed mother of two boys aged eight and 12 who had to surrender her licence after being diagnosed with serious heart problems. After a medical procedure she has been cleared to resume driving, but can’t do so without her licence.

“My health condition means I may not live to 60 so I definitely need to live my adventures now with the boys. My independence is being denied by strangers that I have no control over, I cannot express enough my frustration,” she wrote.

DVLA building in Swansea
Many drivers’ documents are reportedly trapped at the DVLA offices in Swansea. Photograph: Phil Rees/Rex/Shutterstock

Others, some of whom have been waiting months for passports and other ID to be returned by the agency, have asked why the DVLA even needs to see such documents when they could be scanned securely at post offices or similar sites.

Doctors, lorry drivers and lots of people who are were born outside the UK with foreign passports and driving licences appear to be adversely affected by the backlogs. Many had to send in ID documents which are now stuck at the DVLA’s offices.

People have been unable to travel to funerals, for example, unless they were able to arrange an emergency replacement passport.

The DVLA says postal applications are being opened and processed in the order they arrived.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that scammers have been exploiting the chaos, launching fake websites to trap customers desperate to get through to the agency.

Readers who thought they were calling the DVLA have been landed with phone bills of more than £100 after being duped by the fake websites into calling expensive 0904 rather than the official DVLA 0300 numbernumbers. Huge numbers of people are thought to have been duped into paying as much as £94 for photocard renewals that cost £14 from the DVLA.

This week the agency warned again against using copycat websites charging a premium for DVLA services that are free or for set prices on gov.uk.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman also contacted Money to urge upset DVLA customers to go through its complaints procedure. There are more details on its website

The DVLA this week updated its pages on the Gov.uk website with the latest processing dates. It maintains the processing times for paper applications are six to 10 weeks, but concedes there are extra delays in more complex transactions. Check the site for more details Gov.uk/guidance/dvla-coronavirus-covid-19-update

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