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Letter from DVSA Chief Executive to approved driving instructors about restarting driving instruction and tests
I wrote to you on 22 April 2020 to set out the steps that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has taken to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and what support the government has put in place for you.
I now want to update you on the planning we’re doing to help return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a second peak of infections.
The plan to rebuild: the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy
On 11 May 2020, the government published its COVID-19 recovery strategy which:
- sets out the progress the UK has made to date in tackling the coronavirus outbreak
- explains the plans for moving to the next phase of the response to the virus
Our priority remains to protect the public and save lives. That’s why any easing of measures must meet the government’s 5 tests. These are:
- Protect the NHS’s ability to cope.
- A sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19.
- Reliable data showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.
- Be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand.
- Be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.
Driving instruction and driving tests
Other than emergency training and tests for critical workers, driving instruction and driving tests have not yet been able to restart because the risk of transmission of the virus in vehicles is higher.
In his statement on 10 June, the Prime Minister reiterated that the government will remain cautious and measure the effect of the changes it makes. The Prime Minister explained this means moving slower than we’d have liked in some areas.
Driving instruction and tests will only restart when the government is confident that the assessment of risk warrants it, subject to the 5 tests and further detailed scientific advice.
In the meantime, I want to re-emphasise that you should continue to limit driving lessons to critical workers who are preparing for an emergency driving test.
Once again, I would like to thank those of you who have been able to offer driving lessons to critical workers during these unprecedented times.
We will, of course, share more information with you as soon as it’s available - including the dates that driving instruction and driving tests can restart.
Planning to restart our services
Teams across DVSA have been working extremely hard over the past few months to make sure we’re in the best possible position to restart our services as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Our priority is to make sure that you, your pupils and our staff stay safe.
The work is split into these main areas:
- preparing guidance for driving examiners on carrying out driving tests
- making sure our driving test centres are ready to reopen
- making sure we have PPE in place
- understanding which driving examiners might not be able to return to testing straight away
- planning driving test schedules so that anyone who had a test cancelled because of coronavirus is considered a priority
- understanding how the situation might be different in England, Scotland and Wales
I want to explain what each of these involves in a little more detail.
Preparing guidance for driving examiners
We are reviewing and updating the guidance for driving examiners about carrying out driving tests. This includes things like the PPE they need to wear, greeting candidates and cleaning equipment such as sat navs and tablets.
We’re also working hard to make sure we’ll be able to quickly help the NHS Test and Trace service (Test and Protect in Scotland, and Test, Trace, Protect in Wales) should a driving test candidate or driving examiner develop symptoms in the days after a test.
Making sure driving test centres are ready to reopen
Some of our driving test centres have now been closed for 12 weeks. We need to make sure they’re thoroughly checked before we can reopen them.
As just one example, we need to make sure the hot and cold water systems are free from legionella bacteria (which causes Legionnaires’ disease).
Many of the contractors that we rely on to do this work also put their services on hold during the lockdown. We’re busy working with them to get our test centre network safe and ready.
Making sure we have PPE in place
To help keep you, your pupils and driving examiners stay safe, we’ve ordered PPE for all driving examiners. This includes face coverings and gloves.
Since the start of pandemic, there has been a high demand for this type of equipment. Like many organisations, we’ve had to wait for supplies to become available.
Understanding which driving examiners will be available
As you’ll appreciate, some of our driving examiners are either clinically vulnerable from coronavirus, or extremely vulnerable. Others might live with or care for people in those groups.
We’ve been working with all our driving examiners to find out more about their situation so we know how many will be able to return to carrying out driving tests as soon as we’re able.
Planning driving test schedules
When we suspended driving tests, we rescheduled all your pupils’ driving tests to a named date and time.
But we now have 3 issues to think about:
- rescheduled dates might not be suitable for you and your pupils, as situations may have changed
- not all driving examiners will be available
- social distancing measures might limit the number of tests we can carry out
This means we need to think about the best way to make sure your pupils can take their test at a convenient time, in a way that’s fair to everyone.
The fairest way we can do this is to put all the rescheduled tests ‘on hold’. This means the test will no longer go ahead on the originally rescheduled date.
We will then ask people in the backlog to go online and choose their preferred date and time. We’ll invite them to do this in batches, based on when their test should have originally taken place.
We will contact you before we start this process, so you can make your pupils aware of what’s happening. We will also contact them directly with more information.
We are also planning how we can continue to help critical workers to get a test as a priority throughout this process.
Understanding how differences in England, Scotland and Wales might affect us
As you will be aware, public health is the responsibility of the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales. This means that there are currently different lockdown rules in place for England, Scotland and Wales.
We are talking to the devolved administrations about how this might affect us restarting our services in Scotland and Wales.
Theory tests cancelled up until 21st June
Theory tests cancelled up until 21st June
What DVSA are doing
They are emailing anyone with a test booked from 15 to 21 June to let them know it has been rescheduled.
On 29 May the agency notified that tests in Scotland and Wales will be rescheduled up to and including 21 June 2020. This is in line with government guidelines in the respective countries.
Emergency theory tests
An emergency theory testing service will still be available to those who have a critical need to take a test, such as NHS and social care workers.
Please do not call DVSA customer service centre as they will not be able to help. Stay up to date on the latest information on GOV.UK.
The situation will be monitored and DVSA will let trainers and candidates know if there is further need to cancel more tests.
Driver, rider and vocational trainers should continue to limit instruction to key workers preparing for an essential test.
COVID-19 update: theory test centre locations for critical workers
To help critical workers get an emergency theory test at a location that is more suitable to them, we will be opening an additional 25 theory test centres across the UK.
When applying for an emergency theory test online, candidates will be asked to select their 'preferred' test centre. Their theory test will then be booked at the nearest available centre if their preferred location is not available.
Available theory test centre locations
Critical workers will now be able to take a theory test at:
Mile End A
The new locations have been chosen based on critical worker test demand.
Theory tests for anyone who is not a key worker have been cancelled up to and including 30 May 2020. We’re keeping the situation under constant review, in line with government guidance, and will provide further information on testing as soon as we can.
Coronavirus: theory tests
Theory tests are currently suspended until 31 May 2020 due to coronavirus, but you can apply for an emergency theory test if you’re a critical worker.
Theory tests have been suspended up to and including 31 May 2020 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If your theory test has been cancelled
You’ll get an email to tell you that your test has been cancelled.
You’ll automatically get a refund. You’ll get an email to confirm this has been done – this may take a few weeks to arrive.
You’ll then have to book a new theory test for a date and time from 1 June 2020 that suits you.
You can still book, change or cancel tests for 1 June 2020 onwards.
If your test was cancelled at short notice
You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses if your theory test was cancelled at short notice.
‘Short notice’ means less than 3 clear working days’ notice. Working days do not include Sundays and public holidays.
Changes to the theory test planned for 14 April 2020
The changes to the theory test that were planned to be introduced on 14 April 2020 have not gone ahead. This is because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will make these changes to the theory test as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the theory test will continue to work in the same way as it currently does.
Apply for an emergency theory test if you’re a critical worker
You can apply for an emergency test while tests are suspended if you’re classed as a critical worker. This includes if you work in:
- health and social care
- education and childcare
- key public services
- local and national government
- food and other necessary goods
- public safety and national security
- utilities, communication and financial services
Apply for an emergency theory test if you're a key worker
If you’re a key worker, for example you work in a hospital or as a carer, you can apply for a driving theory test for:
- lorries, buses and coaches, including the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) part 1a and 1b (theory) and part 2 (case studies)
You must be ready to take your test at short notice when you apply.
To apply click HERE
Coronavirus: driving tests
Driving tests are currently suspended for up to 3 months (from 20 March 2020) due to coronavirus. You can apply for an emergency test if you’re a critical worker.
Driving tests have been suspended to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Check back for updates about when they’re available again, or sign up for email alerts.
There’s separate guidance about theory tests and coronavirus.
If your driving test was cancelled
What happens next will depend on what type of test you had booked.
If you had:
- a car driving test booked, it will be rebooked for a new date
- a motorcycle, lorry, bus, tractor or approved driving instructor (ADI) test booked, it will not be rebooked for you - you’ll get a full refund and have to book again later
Car driving tests
You’ll get an email to tell you when your car driving test has been rebooked.
It will tell you the new date and time of your test.
You will not get this email immediately - it should arrive around 2 weeks before your original test date.
It’s likely that your new test date will be around 3 months after your original date.
If you want to cancel your car driving test
You can cancel your test if you want to get a full refund now. Email the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to request this.
You need to include your full name and 2 of the following pieces of information:
- your driving licence number
- your theory test pass certificate number
- your driving test booking reference
Other types of driving tests
If you had booked any other types of test (for example, a motorcycle or lorry test), the test will be cancelled and you’ll get a full refund.
You’ll then need to book another test when the booking service is available again.
You cannot book a future driving test date
You cannot currently book a new driving test.
When driving tests start again, people who had their test cancelled will be given priority. This means you’ll have to wait longer than usual.
Check back for the latest updates, or sign up for email alerts.
If your theory test certificate expires soon
Legally, your theory test certificate cannot be extended in any circumstances.
You’ll need to book and pay to take another theory test.
You need to pass this before you can book your driving test.
Letter from DVSA Chief Executive to approved driving instructors about coronavirus (COVID-19)
I want to update you on what the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is doing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and advise you to look at what support the government has put in place for you.
As you know, we have suspended driving tests to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
We are continuing to provide emergency tests for those whose work is critical to the coronavirus response.
The details of how to apply for these have been published at www.gov.uk/dvsa.
We will continue to prioritise these and match them against 400 volunteer driving examiners across Great Britain.
Not all driving examiners are able to provide this service because those particularly vulnerable from coronavirus need to stay at home. However, those staying at home are helping to process requests for emergency tests.
Providing driving lessons for people whose work is critical to the coronavirus response
I’m aware that some of the people whose work is critical to the coronavirus response will need to finish their driving lessons and be able to use a vehicle for their test. I’m very grateful to those of you who are able to continue providing lessons for those who need them.
In line with our plans to only provide tests for candidates who have an essential need, when taking lessons, we recommend that you ask candidates to bring appropriate ID with them demonstrating the need for them to take lessons - for example, an ID badge, payslip or letter from their employer.
We have shared details of the personal protective arrangements we’re putting in place for driving examiners with the driving instructors’ National Associations Strategy Partnership (NASP).
This partnership brings together the ADINJC, DIA and MSA GB associations. You may wish to consider similar arrangements if you’re providing lessons for those who need it.
Following the latest Public Health England guidance
We also recommend that you put in place appropriate measures in line with the latest guidance Public Heath England and Cabinet Office guidance, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes guidance on:
- hand washing and use of hand sanitiser
- having good ventilation in place where possible
- cleaning shared surfaces in vehicles regularly
Visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support for the latest guidance.
Working with you and your associations
I know how challenging the current situation is. I appreciate the impact our decisions have on you, your customers, your business and your family. And I fully understand the uncertainty is worrying.
We are holding regular conference calls with NASP to make sure your questions and concerns are shared with DVSA. I lead these calls, and it’s a personal priority for me to make sure you have the information you need as soon as it’s available.
NASP has published our answers to your most frequently asked questions, and they have produced a pack of information which you can find at www.n-a-s-p.co.uk.
Individual associations are also providing extra information and support - to members and non-members alike - via webinars, email updates and support lines. Please take advantage of the help and support that’s available to you.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.
If you are eligible for the new scheme, HMRC will contact you and invite you to apply using a simple online form, with the cash being paid directly into your bank account.
HMRC aims to contact you by mid-May 2020, and will make payments by early June 2020.
The government is supporting businesses through a package of other measures during this period.
To find support, advice and information to help you with the impact of coronavirus on your business, please visit www.businesssupport.gov.uk. You can sign up for email alerts from there to get the latest information.
If your ADI registration expires by the end of June
If your ADI registration is due to expire by the end of June 2020, you can choose not to renew it right now.
You then have up to 12 months to re-register without having to take the qualifying tests again. However, you will not be able to charge money (or monies worth) for instruction while your registration has lapsed.
If you renewed your ADI registration in March
If you renewed your ADI registration in March 2020 and have stopped working, you can apply for a refund of your registration fee.
You’ll then need to cut up your ADI certificate (badge). You will not be able to charge for instruction after you do this, but you can re-register as an ADI up to the end of March 2021 and start work again without retaking the qualifying test.
Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives
The single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to follow government guidance and stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
I do not underestimate the challenges this brings for you and your pupils.
When the government relaxes its social-distancing measures, we will make sure we help you understand how this will affect DVSA’s services, your ability to return to work, and what it means for your pupils.
You can sign up to get email alerts from us at www.gov.uk/guidance/dvsa-email-alerts.
The priority for us now is to save lives in a different way than we usually do. But when things get back to normal, we will get back to our vital work of helping everyone stay safe on Britain’s roads.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
I hope that you, your family and your friends stay safe.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
MOT's due from 30th March
Coronavirus: MOTs due from 30 March 2020
Your car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it’s due on or after 30 March 2020 - but you must keep your vehicle safe to drive.
More guidance HERE
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