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Heavy Vehicle Testing Review recommendations – updating you on our progress

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orange bus with white lorry on sunny road

It’s been around 18 months since the Department for Transport (DfT) published its review of heavy vehicle testing in Great Britain. And, since then we’ve been making progress towards implementing the review’s findings.

You’ll remember that the review concluded the current model of testing is fit for purpose, but that vehicle operators and Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs) needed more flexibility with test bookings. We agreed to implement the review’s findings and have been steadily working towards delivering these since last year.

Improving what we do is important to us. We want customers to receive the best possible service from DVSA. We have already allowed more ATFs to open and ran some focus groups with ATFs and vehicle operators to look at how we can bring some of the review’s other recommended actions forward. I’d like to talk to you about these in more detail.

Listening to your feedback

I mentioned some of the focus groups we held in my last blog post, but I thought it would be useful to share the thinking we’ve been doing as a result of the feedback from industry. For me, they were key to understanding how people use our services and what they need from them.

You might remember that we heard two clear messages from customers – they want certainty and flexibility. The current process of booking testing capacity and booking tests can be stressful and bureaucratic. I believe there’s a lot we can do to move away from what currently feels like a bartering process for testing capacity.

This has helped us understand that to provide the service vehicle users need, a move away from the current quarterly scheduling process with ATFs would be helpful.

A new approach to scheduling

Our current thinking is to move to a model where we agree normal levels of testing hours/days with an ATF – and then they stay that way until changed, rather than “bidding” every quarter.

An ATF would be able to request changes to that profile – for example, if they are growing their business – and we could agree to a permanent change to that level. Or an ATF could request temporary changes – for example, if there is a peak in local demand. ATFs would still be able to cancel days if they are not required, with charges applying if this is done at short notice.

As always, we would welcome feedback on this proposal in the comments section below. There is still some detail to refine and make sure this will work for ATFs, operators and DVSA.

By taking this approach, we hope to give certainty of what is available (so operators can book ahead with ATFs) but also ensure there is short term flexibility too.

To implement these changes we would also need update the technology we use for ATFs to be able to manage this, and for us to schedule testing time, as well as review the contracts we have with ATFs.

The good news is that we’ll be able to build on the work we’re doing to introduce the Manage Your Vehicle Testing (MYVT) service for ATFs – which some sites are already piloting for us.

Because of the way this is being designed, we’ll be able to extend it in the future from providing account information, to enabling ATFs to request when they want testing time/days and change what they have scheduled.

Making that whole approach more efficient should make it easier for ATFs to deliver the service that vehicle operators and other users need.

This will not happen overnight – but rest assured that we want to reform the booking process next year and implement changes needed to get there.

Recruiting more Vehicle Standards Assessors

We know recruitment is difficult for the entire industry now and that you are facing challenges in the same way that we are.

As well as putting a lot of effort into our apprenticeship programme, we’ve also recruited around 150 vehicle standard assessors (VSAs) in the last 12 months and have more campaigns in the pipeline.

We have, of course, seen some of our colleagues leave the agency and we’re working hard to manage the impact of this. I’m pleased that overall our numbers are up around 4% – but we do know we need this to grow more. The plan now is to get to 516 VSAs by the end of the financial year.

We have a fantastic team of testers already, and I know that they are keen that we deliver flexibility as much as we can.

Better measures for our performance

We’re also improving how we track how well the service is performing.

What I mean by this is using the information we have about the vehicle testing service and sharing it with industry to show a wide range of indicators of how well the service is working.

This allows us to work with our ATF partners and vehicle users to keep improving the service.

Through our industry forums, we have already developed an initial set of service performance indicators. The idea is that we can review these together to understand where the service could be better.

The measures we have are wide ranging. They include user satisfaction (that many of you will have contributed to), data on cancellations and data on levels of appointments committed to.

The idea is that the indicators give the data that helps us work with ATFs and vehicle operators to make the service better.

If you want to find out more about the measures and information we’re sharing, you can ask your Network Business Manager to run through the details.

Developing our MOT history service for heavy vehicles

I want to end by sharing some additional work we’re currently doing to enhance the MOT history service.

If you use this service regularly, you’ll know that for heavy vehicles the data is not available in real-time and does not display a vehicle’s full MOT history. It’s also not possible to access a digital copy of your vehicle’s MOT certificate.

In the new year, we’ll be making changes to provide access to real-time MOT history and digital MOT certificates for heavy vehicles. We’ll share more information on this soon.

Before then, our VSAs will offer to provide an email copy (PDF) of the vehicle’s MOT certificate at the point of test. We would encourage all presenters and operators to ask for email copies of certificates – before the full digital access is made available next year.

I think we’re making good progress on changing the testing service to better meet your needs, as well as extending the range of services that we’re able to offer you.

I’d like to thank our industry partners in helping us get to this stage, as well as the wider industry for your feedback and help in piloting projects like MYVT. I’ll update you further in the new year.




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  1. Comment by Don Bray posted on

    Well done on the vehicles historic MoT aspect.
    This will be an excellent tool to those purchasing used HGVs.

    • Replies to Don Bray>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      Thanks for the feedback. Hopefully you will see further improvements as richer data becomes available (so you can see failure reasons), it gets easier to download in bulk (should you wish!) and appears in real time. As always, we're keen to hear any ideas for further improvement.

  2. Comment by william thomas glover posted on

    Could you confirm are we vehicle standards accessors or testers when we had HGV stations we had testers and vehicle inspectors have still got both

    • Replies to william thomas glover>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      Apologies if I've been careless in flitting between the two roles - I've used the terms interchangeably.

      The role is officially titled as Vehicle standards assessor, but of course through the industry it's understandably widely still known as a tester.

  3. Comment by Alcir Vogel posted on

    Official Congratulations!

    History service effective, by "pacing and tayloring", with strongly empowerment, discipline and perfect development. Really and true "make sense".

    Best Regards with best votes for greatest evolution.

    @Alcir Vogel #vonVogel #Diplomacy

  4. Comment by Colin Hughes posted on

    Good progress, particularly the LGV history.

    • Replies to Colin Hughes>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      Many thanks. And all suggestions for improvement are welcome!

  5. Comment by Dai Davies posted on

    As a ATF Lane Manager I would like to see some sort of process to recorded "Failure To Attend" or a "last minute cancelation" for a pre booked test slot. If we are unable to fulfil that slot with a last minute stand in we charge the customer if they cancel or FTA within 10 working days, however my point is if we can't fill this space that goes against our utilisation figures which I think is un-fair if we have been let down by a customer. The DVSA Tester should be able to input onto his daily report that on our schedule for the day that we now show all the testers, we actually had vehicle registration or company booked in for that slot.

    • Replies to Dai Davies>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      A good question!

      Managing issues like this is of interest to both DVSA and the ATF. And I think there will things both DVSA and ATFs can do to improve.

      I don't have all the answers, but here are a few thoughts.

      Where we want to get to is to work out the way we charge ATFs so that we can be less focused on issues like this, so DVSA only needs to worry about no shows, not covering the cost of our tester being with you for the day and/or if we don't have enough testers to get all the vehicles tested (and have a bit of flexibility for the things that always do go a little wrong). So we need to think about what we need to do with fees (which could be to make sure the minimum fee to an ATF for the day is right and/or overall fees are the right level) and that we have enough staff (which we're currently keenly recruiting).

      And as you say in your note, ATFs can charge for no-shows and/or do their best to fill any gaps that do appear.

      So hopefully we can get away from worrying about utilisation as much as now, but it will take us a little while to get there completely! In the meantime, we'll have a think about your idea and see if anything we can do.

  6. Comment by Paul Sapsford posted on

    My idea is to train one / two of our own Technicians as testers, DVSA can still audit their performance, still audit the test lane standards. We employ the Technician, so we pay his salary, DVSA get an agreed percentage for each test carried out, which can be monitored as you feel fit. This way we have, or ATFs have total flexibility in testing.

    • Replies to Paul Sapsford>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      Our focus at the moment is to improve the service within the current legislative framework, which requires DVSA to do the testing. We still believe there's merit in improving that.

      We know that some may prefer a different model. But Government would need to consider the potential advantages that could bring, as well as any disadvantages that could result - particularly around risks (perceived or real) to road safety. Any such change would need to go through Parliament - so would it not be happen quickly.

      So our focus is to work on improvements that we can realistically deliver over the next few years and get the current model working as well as it could.

  7. Comment by John posted on

    As an operator, who does not present the vehicle for test, how do I request an e mail copy of the certificate

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Neil Barlow posted on

      For now, whoever presents vehicles for you can ask for it to be e-mailed at the time of test. They can either arrange for it to go to themselves and forward it on, or you can give them the address you wish it to be e-mailed to.

      We accept that isn't perfect, so next year we'll be providing the facility to download a copy from the MOT History web page - in the same way the keeper of a private light vehicle already can.