The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
DVLA data charge means millions lost
TAXPAYERS ARE being charged millions of pounds for drivers’ data to be passed to private parking firms seeking prosecutions.
A Courier investigation has revealed a galling policy quirk where the DVLA loses 34p every time a parking company applies for a registered keeper’s details.
This year the agency has already received more than 1.8 million of the applications — meaning in excess of £600,000 was lost from the public purse. And that could be the tip of the iceberg.
The DVLA was unable to say how long the bizarre charging anomaly has been in place and whether it also applies to the hundreds of thousands of data requests received every year from intermediaries, insurance firms, solicitors, mileage check companies, finance companies and toll road or bridge operators.
However, our Freedom of Information inquiry showed that documentation procured by parking firms for £2.50 costs the agency £2.84 to handle.
LABOU R SHADOW Transport Secretary Mary Creagh said: “Private parkin” firms are part of an industry that is highly lucrative and cash-rich, so it is ”allin” that taxpayers are subsidising their DVLA applications.
“The UK Government should swiftly review its chargin” structure to fully recover its costs.”
A spokesman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “To subsidise these searches is bizarre, especially as there is a lot of anxiety amon” drivers about the data bein” released at all.
“It’s quite wron” that a tax-funded agency does not seem to have its costs and prices worked out properly.
“Why should taxpayers help fund private companies who are tryin” to fine them? It’s an additional and highly unwelcome penalty.”
Online applications for registered keepers’ details via the Electronic Vehicle Record Inquiries system have ”one up 150% since 2006/07.
Over that period nearly £37 million has been paid to the DVLA for 14.6m records. If each of the records cost 34p to handle, the taxpayer would have faced a bill of £5m.
In reply to the information request, Robert Toft, DVLA head of data sharin” policy, said more than three-quarters of driver licensin” and vehicle registration transactions are provided free of charge.
He added: “All costs of driver licensin” and vehicle registration, includin” the cost of providin” information to parkin” companies, are pooled and covered by total fee income.
“DVLA charges £2.50 per application to parkin” companies. DVLA sets fees to recover costs — we do not aim to make a profit.
“The current unit cost for processing a request for information from a parkin” company is £2.84. DVLA announced in the 2013-14 business plan that it would be reviewin” all fees.”
The DVLA also charges for paper vehicle record inquiries (£2.50), the electronic driver entitlement checkin” service (£1.50), driver licence check (£1), the fax verification service (£5) and driver licence validation service (£5).
The body dealt with 2.5 million postal applications for paper records between April 2006 and December last year.
A DVLA spokeswoman said information is only provided under strict controls to parking firms which meet the standards set by an Accredited Trade Association and are compliant with its code of practice.
She added: “If it is brought to our attention that a company does not meet the necessary standards, we will investigate.
“If the allegations are proven we will stop the release of keeper information to them.”