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Who is responsible for policy on driving and vehicles in the UK?

Policy on driving and vehicles covers a diverse range of areas such as the motorway network, local road maintenance, vehicle standards, driving behaviour and traffic offences. Policy making in some, but not all, of these areas is devolved in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

UK Government policy on driving and vehicles is set by the Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered by several bodies such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

Many domestic licensing and vehicle standards derive from international rules originally set by either the European Union or the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Policy on traffic offences and their enforcement is a shared competency between the DfT, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Vehicle bodies

  • The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency hold records on driving licences and vehicles and collect vehicle excise duty. They hold more than 49 million driver records and over 40 million vehicle records, and collect around £7 billion a year in vehicle excise duty.
  • The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency carry out driving tests, approve people to be driving instructors and MOT testers, carry out tests to make sure lorries and buses are safe to drive, carry out roadside checks on drivers and vehicles, and monitor vehicle recalls.
  • The Vehicle Certification Agency test and certify new vehicles to ensure they comply with internationally recognised standards, in order to improve vehicle safety and environmental protection.
  • The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) is responsible for both licensing and testing vehicles and drivers in Northern Ireland. Vehicle Excise Duty in Northern Ireland is collected by the DVLA for HM Treasury, like the rest of the UK.

Is the Government going to change the rules around how often vehicle MOT tests must be taken?

There has been no formal Government announcement over changes to how often vehicle MOT tests must be taken. In April 2022, there was press speculation that the Government was considering replacing the current yearly MOT test with a two-yearly test instead, as a measure to reduce financial burdens on vehicle owners.

In oral evidence to the Transport Committee on 27 April 2022, the Transport Secretary said that no decision had been taken, but the Government was reviewing different options.

Currently, every car that is more than 3 years old must have an up-to-date MOT certificate every year. The standard fee for cars is around £55 and £30 for motorbikes, plus the costs of any required repairs.

Is funding available to help me install a charge point at home or at work?

The UK Government has a range of schemes designed to increase the availability of charge points locally, including in people’s homes and workplaces:

There are other funding streams designed to support larger projects. This includes a £450 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund (LEVI Fund) designed to support “larger-scale chargepoint infrastructure projects, including local rapid hubs and larger on-street schemes” that are not covered by other grants and a Rapid Charging Fund, worth £950 million, designed to support charging points in service areas on motorways and major A-roads.

Further information is provided in Commons Library briefing paper on Electric vehicles and infrastructure.

Other topics addressed in this paper

This paper also answers FAQs on the following topics:

Responsibilities

Central, devolved and local government responsibilities for roads; the Strategic Road Network; speed limits; moving traffic offences.

Road use and maintenance

Funding for potholes; compensation for loss of business due to road works; restricting lorries from roads; street lighting.

Safety

Smart motorways; vehicle safety around schools; speed camera revenues; quad bikes and off-road bikes.

Air Quality and Climate Change

Clean Air Zones; engine idling; ban on petrol and diesel vehicles; electric vehicle (EV funding); EV chargepoint funding.

Vehicles

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA); silent vehicles; noisy vehicles; dazzling headlights; potential changes to MOT rules.

Further reading

You may also be interested in the briefing paper on Road traffic offences and licensing FAQs. More resources are available on the Transport page of the Commons Library website.


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