Services currently provided by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) will be brought together into a single agency, the roads minister Stephen Hammond announced today.
The DSA and VOSA are already undertaking work to make testing more flexible and convenient for customers and this merger will allow them to explore opportunities to extend this in the future. These services will be delivered by the single agency in 2014.
A transitional board, under the leadership of VOSA chief executive Alastair Peoples, who will head the agency, will start work next month to determine the structure of the organisation.
Hammond said: "We need to make sure that we continue to keep pace with customers' needs and deliver services in a way which is both convenient and cost effective.
"These changes will put customers at the heart of the services they rely on and allow for a more coherent approach to service delivery. By bringing testing and standards services into a single organisation we will make life easier for customers and potentially reduce the fees we charge.
"Staff at the DSA and VOSA do a great job in delivering for customers every day and we will work closely with them to support them through these changes."
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the move. Karen Dee, FTA's director of policy, said: "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."
The Motoring Services Strategy consultation on improving the delivery of motoring services by the four executive agencies - VOSA, DSA, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Vehicle Certification Agency - floated the idea of ‘streamlining' the agencies but there were few indications of how this might be achieved.
Dee continued: "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."
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Geoff Dunning added: "This move makes obvious sense to an industry that is surrounded by regulations from number of regulatory bodies. 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."