Government delays paper licence axe

The plans to abolish the paper counterpart to the UK driving licence early next year have been put on hold by the government.

Due to a large number of pleas from industry bodies to delay the plans until after the busy Christmas period, the government and DVLA have now agreed to push the phasing out back.

Originally, the plans were for the paper counterpart to the licence to be phased out by January 1st in an effort to save millions of pounds in admin fees and to streamline the licensing process for drivers.

£18m saving

Government estimations claimed that the abolition of the paper counterpart would save British drivers around £18m a year, while the industry as a whole will save approximately £2m annually.

However, motoring bodies including the Freight Transport Association urged the government to hold back on the plans until a functioning online system for checking drivers’ credentials was set up.

It had been predicted that there may be problems following the immediate switchover, particularly for drivers who may face longer waiting times and higher costs for car rental and leasing.

If the online database hadn’t been made immediately accessible, drivers may have been forced to endure expensive call charges in order to give rental companies their information.

Postponement welcomed

Ian Gallagher, the FTA’s head of policy for driver licencing, said: “Businesses that employ a large number of people who have to drive for a living have a critical role in ensuring these drivers are safe and eligible to be on the road.”

He added: “FTA members desperately want a sophisticated electronic system for monitoring their drivers – but the system the Government is currently proposing is not suitable for business needs.

“The decision to postpone the scrapping of the counterpart is therefore welcomed while we all work together to sort out a system which is fit for purpose.”

Plans to ditch the licence counterpart were first announced by the government in 2011, as part of plans to reduce costs and also streamline the licence checking process.

In its place, the DVLA has proposed a new online system, which holds all of the information currently displayed on the paper part of the driving licence.

Anybody who needs to access a driver’s information would be able to use the system to check details within 48 hours, though it’s argued that this could quickly become expensive and time-consuming.