- On June 1, 2020
- By linwestern
Letter from NASP to Baroness Vere
The following letter has been sent from NASP to Baroness Vere who is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Transport , together with senior DVSA personnel.
Dear Baroness Vere
I am writing to you on behalf of NASP (National Associations Strategic Partnership) who between us represent around three quarters of the actual working driving instructors (ADIs) in the UK: this includes driver training across learners, vocational and rider training. NASP are also a Tier 1 Stakeholder with DVSA and we also have representation on the DfT Road Safety Delivery Group.
We write at this time to express our disappointment and disillusionment with DVSA communications during COVID-19. Throughout this crisis there has been an inconsistency and lack of timely communication from DVSA, leading to confusion and frustration for us and our working members.
There have been very few communications and updates given to fee paying licence holders directly throughout. When we have requested updates we can share with members, we have been given assurances that we will get information imminently, only to receive no publishable update at all, or have to wait up to a fortnight for a communication to be sent out.
A recent example of the poor communication we have experienced was around theory testing and when it would resume. On Friday 29th having had, no firm update on when theory tests would resume in our weekly hour long Stakeholder video conference meeting, a release was then sent by DVSA directly at 9.12 pm in the evening stating when tests would resume in Scotland and Wales but cancelling tests on June 1st in England – but with no clear details of what was happening for tests after this date.
This one communication alone left trainers and their pupils incredibly confused and upset, as associations we were able to offer no further advice (as we had been informed at the same time as they and we had no access to further advice over the weekend ) and even at the time of writing, there is still scant advice on this subject.
Sadly as NASP and Tier 1 stakeholders it seems we are more likely to find out information from DVSA Twitter feeds or through ADIs who contact the Agency Helpline – and even then these sources of information appear to contradict each other, and the advice we have been given in our stakeholder updates.
When COVID-19 began we urged the DVSA CEO to write to all ADIs. Whilst acknowledging this letter did go finally out, and was reassuring to licence holders, it took 4 weeks from request to delivery – in the midst of a crisis of this nature, impacting your customers’ lives and livelihoods to such a degree, such a timeline for communications is unacceptable.
Another point of frustration is that often in the meetings we attend with DVSA, the information we are given is given in strictest confidence and is unusable in terms of dissemination to our members. We should be working on each meeting to have one item at least to be able to update members with , even if that update is a ‘what are we doing to manage this crisis’ type update. We are also frequently told that NASP is the main communication channel for DVSA to the ADI community but as we only represent a portion of the community, we have urged DVSA to communicate more frequently directly with trainers as the agency has the means to reach each and every ADI licence holder in the UK and should be communicating directly and regularly with its fee paying customer in such times of upheaval for an entire industry.
We have done our utmost to work proactively with DVSA during COVID-1 to help manage communications and we do also appreciate it is frustrating for DVSA themselves having to wait lengthy times for communications to be signed off by stakeholders. However if we do not receive timely, relevant and accurate information we can’t help our profession at a time they need us most.
The majority of ADIs will listen to DVSA but they have not been given sufficient information and guidance and are currently feeling abandoned by the agency to whom they and their pupils pay a fee.
The major downside of the lack of clear messaging, and the immediate concern, is that (as of today) guidance is still not available as to when practical testing will resume and trainers are still unclear whether they should resume training. As the gap rapidly closes between rescheduled driving test dates, starting from as early as the 17th June and now, we have a split community of ADIs. Some of whom are resuming work now to ready their pupils for these dates (despite DVSA official tweets saying only key worker training should be occurring at this time) and those sat at home, respecting DVSA advice, but worrying their pupil may be facing going to test without adequate preparation and after months off the road.
This lack of clear communication and guidance is harming ADIs, the industry, pupils and DVSA’s reputation, and is likely to cause further risk as we face a number of trainers resuming training now without proper guidance, and on the flipside, trainers who are respecting what they perceive to be the guidance around respecting social distancing, not sharing vehicles with those outside their household etc., but equally running the risk of not being able to adequately prepare pupils if tests resume shortly and with little notice.
Lynne Barrie MA, ADINJC Chair, current NASP Chair
Carly Brookfield, DIA CEO
Peter Harvey MBE, MSA GB Chair
The ADINJC is a national association run by ADIs on a not-for-profit basis. We work tirelessly to inform, represent and support our members, and to promote the interests of our profession.