Webinar: Link and Questions

If you missed yesterday’s webinar, don’t worry, you can view it here.

Thanks from the team on the supportive comments received following the webinar, here are a few of them:

I watched your webinar last night. You guys do a great job . Apart from informative it was morale boosting which more so than ever we need to be in this lockdown. Well done. Rob ADI

Thanks guys , brilliant work and information as always, stay safe.  Maxine Siddall Hatton

Still doing a sterling job, thank you all.  Richard Martin

Thank you, to all of you, for all the valuable information.  Michelle Holmes

Up till now thanks for all the information..
Lynne Andrew Matt and Charles thank you all 4.  
Sam Ayesha

Thank you all so much for your help and support through difficult times. Stay safe and well !  Sue Papworth

Thank you all for the work you put in for all ADI’s.  Dave Mellor

 It was the first meeting for me and glad I did. Great information and guidance.  Matt Odd

And here are the questions and answers received from DVSA –

1. What is the reasoning behind the decision on private practice being stopped in England please? This will only result in lots of ‘rusty’ candidates arriving for test when they reopen?
Seems strange that it is okay in Scotland and Wales, but not in England. Whilst ADIs can tell their pupils and send them to the gov.uk website link will there be also be announcements to the public made on this? We understand learners who have booked their own tests have received a message on the cancellation emails (this is not on emails to ADIs who book the tests).

Government guidance is very clear that people should be staying at home to save lives and protect the NHS unless the trip is essential. A journey solely for driver learning purposes is not considered essential.   However, current guidance has been reviewed and updated. Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can only practise driving with members of your household or support bubble as part of travel for work, education or other essential journeys. This position is the same in England, Scotland and Wales.

2. Are DVSA going to reconsider any decisions to date on extending the theory test certificate extension now this pandemic is going on for so much longer than was originally envisaged?

To clarify this is not a DVSA decision to make, the theory test certificate validity is set out in legislation and as such there is no discretionary flexibility available for DVSA, DfT or, indeed, the Minister.  If such a change were to be made it would require legislative amendment in parliament.  I understand there have been comparisons made to the MOT extension, but we would highlight that this is already permitted in the legislation, thus merely required ministerial approval.

3. What help are the DVSA providing PDIs now who are in such a difficult position with their Part 3 exams and their trainee licences? Since March 20 when we went into the first lockdown until the end of March this year we are likely to have been unable to work or train for 8 out of the 12 months.  Are the DVSA going to extend PDI part 3  tests as time critical candidates are close to cut of date for taking their part 3.  Decisions such as “ultimately I need to decide whether to lose time on the second pink and return to work as soon as lockdown is lifted or lose time returning to work when lockdown is lifted waiting for pink to arrive” are common and difficult for PDIs. What advice can you give PDIs.

Driving instruction is a regulated profession and as such the role, including the qualification process is governed by legislation.  The Registrar can do only what parliament has granted the powers for them to do.  We cannot just choose to ignore regulations, but we are working with as much flexibility as we possibly can.

Regulations require that a part 3 test is booked, not taken, before the expiry of the part 1.  PDIs whose part 1 pass is due to expire soon can book a test online.  If no tests are available they can book a test to hold, which means paying the fee and we will arrange a test booking when tests become available. This meets the regulatory requirements.

We are advising anyone whose trainee licence commenced at the start of January that they can ask for the licence to be re-issued when restrictions are lifted.   Anyone in that position should contact the ADI team at PADI@dvsa.gov.uk and we will advise them of their options.

Similarly, any trainee whose licence is due to expire in the coming weeks should also seek advice from the ADI team.  We are encouraging trainees not to apply for a licence they know they cannot use, however, we need to take into account the regulatory requirements so advice for one trainee may not be appropriate for another so each should seek their own advice from the ADI team.

Once restrictions are lifted, trainees should give us as much notice as they possible can when they want their licences to start.  We will prioritise these and it is likely they will be issued the same or next working day. Once issued we will send the trainee an email that tells them that they can teach for reward.  This is the same process that we used when restrictions were lifted in the summer.

4. PDIs with Part 3 exams in January which are cancelled are getting them again for the beginning of March? How do we know those will take place or will they be moved again?

We will continue to take direction from Government regards length of the lockdown and the gradual phased reduction in restrictions once infection and death rates decline.  It is a possibility tests may have to be moved again.

5. Some test centres that are meant to be closing down should surely be staying open to help with the testing process once we are able to work again? Will DVSA consider that an example being High Wycombe due to close in March.

Driving Test Centres close for a variety of reasons some we have control over, some we do not, for example lease ending at Brislington.  In consultation with staff, and trade union representatives, Driving Examiners will be redeployed to nearby DTCs to maintain the same testing capacity.

6. Standards Checks – will the DVSA now cancel all routine ADI SCs for the foreseeable future (not just December/January as was originally communicated) and concentrate on those examiners conducting Part 2 & 3 tests only?

We will consider the continuation of the policy to cancel routine SC’s, prioritise P2 & 3 and have 50% of warrant card holders time prioritised to frontline testing.  Our focus since Monday 4th January has been suspending services, responding to changes in Scotland & Wales and getting communications out.  We will begin considering impact, restart principles (as we don’t yet have a date) and long term recovery over the coming weeks.  We will consult with NASP throughout this process.

7. As we have paid our fees for our ADI licences surely, we should all be compensated for the time that we haven’t been able to teach?

As per Question 3, driving instruction is a regulated profession and registration is governed by legislation.  There are no powers to extend the registration period beyond 4 years, nor to waive the fee. 

8. What plans are being made by the DVSA to deal with the incredible backlog of tests? In my test centre – Crewe it’s a 20 week shift from cancelled test for today to new booking in May. This waiting time will continue forever as more turn 17 each week unless tests are done at a higher frequency than they were in the past. Are they recruiting more examiners at the moment? Or will a 5 month wait for a test be considered acceptable going forward as a result of a pandemic? Recruitment and training could be done in a Covid secure way for the most part and if they don’t plan ahead to increase their headcount above where they were before this pandemic the waiting time for tests will inevitably lead to unlicensed drivers who just won’t bother taking a test.

Our focus since Monday 4th January has been suspending services, responding to changes in Scotland & Wales and getting communications out.  We will begin considering impact, restart principles (as we don’t yet have a date) and longterm recovery over the coming weeks.  As mentioned in Q6, we have already redeployed 50% of ALL warrant card holder time to frontline testing.  One of our biggest priorities in 2021 will be frontline service recovery, while keeping our staff and customers safe.

9. ADI access to the booking system: Isn’t it now time to either limit access to the booking system to ADIs only or at least ensure that all ADIs can access it? I understand it’s only a small proportion that use it, all should have access to the system, this could be set up now in the time when no tests are taking place. There will be an excuse that the public should be able to access it if they haven’t learnt with an ADI, but the pandemic has changed the rules on so many things that surely this change to only booking a test through an ADI would improve the pass rates and improve road safety.

We operate two booking systems – Internet Booking System (for public bookings) and Online Business Service (for ADIs to book on behalf of their candidate) – both linked to a central database of test slot availability.  The vast majority of tests are booked via the IBS1 system, we have no intention of restricting this.  Regards OBS, this is not an exclusive system; any ADI is welcome to join OBS, any and all ADIs can access it.  You can register via https://www.gov.uk/register-book-driving-tests-for-pupils.

10. Why aren’t face coverings now compulsory in driving lessons now this pandemic is getting worse?

Of course lessons are suspended at present, but a reversal of this question could also be proposed; should government need to legislate for something like this?  The Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer have repeatedly highlighted the dangers, public health campaigns have communicated the importance of Hands, Face, Space to cut the chain of transmission, and DVSA have communicated the importance of face coverings to every ADI through our SOPs, DVSA Directs and NASP webinars.  DVSA made face coverings compulsory for driving tests under health and safety legislation to protect our workforce; ADIs may choose to do the same.  As a professional, regulated, industry it should not be necessary for government to legislate; but rather should inform, advise and encourage, as we have.  As independent businesses ADIs must conduct their own risk assessments and consider appropriate protections under health and safety, we would strongly encourage the use of face coverings in England and Wales; it is law in Scotland.  It should also be noted that exemptions do apply due to health, physical or mental conditions.

 

And in case you missed it, here is the link to our finance fact sheet.