The learner driver had to wait 14 months for the driver’s license to arrive due to DVLA backlog

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would “look into whether we can introduce private services” as part of plans to improve the DVLA’s service after a series of huge delays

Gareth Atkins waited 14 months for his driver's license
Gareth Atkins waited 14 months for his driver’s license

A learner driver had to wait more than a year for his provisional driver’s license due to serious delays at the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Gareth Atkins, who works in the hospitality industry, says a car his sister gave him has been sitting in his driveway for a year, waiting to be used, and the battery is now dead.

The 21-year-old from Higham near Gravesend, Kent, was told a few weeks ago that his driving license was finally on the way – after 14 months.

In October he was told the form was still with the medical team because he had an eye condition called nystagmus.

He said: “Why did it take a year when I’ve been told by doctors since I was three that there would be no problems driving?

“It was ridiculous and very frustrating. I just have the aspiration to be free.”

More than a million Brits have been caught in a huge backlog of driving license applications in the wake of the Covid pandemic and DVLA strikes.

Now Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to improve the DVLA after delays left some drivers unable to travel or work.

The cabinet minister said this could include possible privatization or the full digitization of the system.

Are you still waiting for your driver’s license? Let us know:

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed to overhaul the DVLA


Photo only/PA images)

Spiegel readers also told this newspaper about the extreme delays they experienced while waiting for their driver’s license to be renewed.

Mike said his wife applied for a driver’s license renewal in November 2021 and had to use the postal service because she does not have a passport.

“To date, there is still no sign of her renewed license. For example, if she needed to rent a vehicle, she would not be able to do so now,” he said.

Another reader, Barry, told us: “I applied online to renew my driver’s license last December – a month before my 76th birthday.

“Nothing has arrived yet, although I destroyed my old one and sent it to the DVLA as instructed. I am aware of the Covid delays but am concerned about my status as a driver now.”

Mr Shapps said the backlog of delays had been reduced from a peak of 1.2 million to 400,000 as a result of a range of measures.

He added that the delays at the DVLA offices in Swansea, South Wales “would not have been there at all had it not been for a totally unnecessary strike”.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have been staging a series of strikes as part of a campaign for more anti-coronavirus safety measures.

The Cabinet Secretary told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee that he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will “look at everything” to improve the DVLA.

He said: “We will see if we can bring in private services for support. I will look at the various automobile associations.

“We have DVLA and DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). This is very confusing for most people.

“One does the licensing, the other does the testing. People ask why there are two organizations.

“I’ll look at all these things. No stone will be left unturned.”

Speaking to The Times, he added that the system could be digitized for convenience.

“I wonder why in today’s world we still have to have 60,000 sheets of paper arriving at the DVLA every day. What do we still need to digitize and how can we make things more efficient?

“The answer is to digitize it and not have to send scraps of paper around,” he said, adding that having different agencies like DVLA and DVSA is “very confusing for most people.”

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