Monday 28 July 2014

VOSA to merge with Driving Standards Agency

legal_aThe Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, VOSA, and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), are to merge during the course of the next year, the roads safety minister Stephen Hammond has announced.

The changes, which are the result of a recent review of the government’s motoring services strategy, will mean that enforcement and vehicle testing services provided by VOSA, and driving test and standards-setting functions currently performed by the DSA, will in the future be performed by a single government body.

Alastair Peoples, who is currently the chief executive of VOSA, will oversee the agencies’ strategic operations as they become one. Meanwhile, DSA chief executive Rosemary Thew has announced she will be stepping down from the civil service from 30 June.

Said Peoples: “I welcome the opportunity of working with both agencies to bring together the vital road safety services we provide.

“The aim of combining the two agencies is to remove duplication of functions, improve efficiency and give our customers a simpler framework of agencies in which to work with. I will now begin the process of working with staff and stakeholders to develop proposals to combine the work of VOSA and DSA.

“We will continue to provide a quality service and the same level of professionalism while taking forward this work.”

In a press statement, VOSA claimed the change would not impact on services provided by the agencies, such as vehicle tests. Nor would it affect the progress of other ongoing reform programmes, it added.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said it would welcome the decision, on the proviso that it would result in improved service and value for money for operators.

Said FTA policy director Karen Dee:  “FTA supports any move which can deliver improved services and better value for money for its members, and we can certainly see some potential for this in the proposed merger of DSA and VOSA – for example if this allows transport managers to check their OCRS scores at the same time as their drivers’ DCPC status that would be a big step forward. However, we will be looking very carefully at the detail behind this to ensure that benefits such as this are delivered.”

She added: “While bringing VOSA and DSA together puts testing of drivers and vehicles in one place, licensing of both will still be dealt with by DVLA.  It is questionable therefore whether the proposals will deliver the improved links between testing and licensing that operators feel are necessary.  FTA looks forward to working with the new – and existing – agencies to bring this about.”

Geoff Dunning, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, took a similar stance.

“This move makes obvious sense to an industry that is surrounded by regulations from number of regulatory bodies,” he said. “However, we are concerned that this is another case of the devil being in the detail and we would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the negotiations as to how the new system will actually work.

“We have always had a good relationship with both the DSA and VOSA and are confident that this will continue with the new, single, regulatory body.”

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