Speaking at a meeting of the Infrastructure Committee at Stormont last week, Ulster Unionist Party Infrastructure Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA, of East Antrim, has pressed Departmental Officials on the details of MOT and Driving Test backlogs. He also put forward the point that the DVA need additional resources to combat extensive waiting lists.
Roy Beggs MLA said “I see that there is a bid for £11 million for lost revenue for DVA, but I do not see any bid for capital equipment or staff for the future. There are huge pressures on DVA. For instance, yesterday, there were approximately 1,000 people queueing to get onto the website to book an MOT. I declare an interest as someone who will need an MOT in a few months’ time. There were 730 people queueing to get onto the website to book a driving test. I understand that it has been extended beyond Christmas and opened up for January. There is considerable pressure for those tests. Can you confirm that the reason that there is no bid is that it is all self-financing because people pay for them, or is there a need for additional money to enable this to happen?
My question is this: in order to allow tests to occur more speedily and the backlog to be dealt with, does the Department need any additional resources, or is it all entirely self-financing, with people paying for tests when they do one?”
Departmental official Ms MacHugh responded, stating “There is a bid for £11 million for lost income to DVA. That is for the costs of the vehicle and driving tests. Clearly, the DVA has been through a very difficult period, first with the lift issue and then with COVID, and its ability to deliver was stretched. I know that it got back as fast as it could. It is also the case that some MOT centres were being used for COVID testing, although I think that the last of those has now been returned to the Department. DVA is working as fast as it can to deal with the backlog. It is working within the resources that it has, but it needs that money to help to make good the loss of income so that it can keep working at the level at which it is currently working.
Where capital is concerned, I believe that the lifts are now installed, so that was big capital expenditure that was clearly needed. It is hoped that having those lifts back in place will start to help to clear the backlog, certainly in MOT testing.
I know what you are saying about resource, and that is in the bid. In capital, I think that the lifts were probably the biggest issue.
Mr Gary Boyd (Department for Infrastructure) added, “Motor vehicle testing and driver testing are self-financing in DVA. As Linda said, there have been drops in income that have created the bid for £11 million in resource. Having resumed the testing, there is clearly the backlog that Linda suggested, and there are capacity issues that the Minister is dealing with. I know that DVA is considering how that can be dealt with. It is very aware that there is a queue and that there has been a backlog over the last number of days.”
Roy Beggs then suggested to the Committee Chair that, “we should follow up with DVA about the backlog, and perhaps we should discuss it later.”
The Committee then subsequently agreed to meet DVA officials to pursue the issue.