In December 2011, I launched a full consultation around a programme of work to transform the way that the DVLA delivers its services to customers. The consultation recognised the need to modernise the way these services are delivered and to respond to the growing demand for more flexible public services.
Today I am announcing that the DVLA will press ahead with its proposals to modernise its services. As a result of this decision the DVLA will centralise its enforcement operations by March 2013 and will close its 39 local offices by the end of 2013. While I recognise that a large number of respondents expressed concerns, I believe that many of these concerns can be mitigated and I am confident that this programme will result in modern, effective services delivering savings of £26 million each year.
I am also announcing that the DVLA will work to ensure that customers in Northern Ireland have access to the full range of vehicle services available to the rest of the UK. This will include online taxing of vehicles and introducing additional benefits such as retaining registration marks.
The DVLA will build on its successes in electronic delivery by providing more transactions online. Local businesses will act as intermediaries to offer motorists more convenient access to certain DVLA services through at least 4,000 outlets nationwide compared to the current 39 DVLA local offices. The DVLA will ensure that alternative service channels will be available before offices close.
Many of the concerns arising from the consultation related to issues around potential degradation of services and uncertainty over the alternative channels. The DVLA has developed its proposals to address these concerns. Discussions with stakeholders have helped shape these proposals, which will provide the motor trade and individual motorists with a more efficient and effective service through a greater number of convenient, accessible channels.
I am grateful to all those who engaged in the consultation process as their views have helped to develop the proposals in a way that can ensure customer needs are met.
Today, I am publishing a package of documents, including an impact assessment and a formal response to the consultation. These documents provide more detail of the future services and will be available on the DVLA website and in the Library of the House.
I am committed to maintaining or enhancing current service levels for all motorists and the DVLA will continue to work with stakeholders to support their transition onto new channels.