The DVSA has admitted it now has “a number of outstanding applications” for individual vehicle approvals (IVAs) as well as appointment delays, as the enforcement agency battles to support priority testing during the pandemic.

Its comments came as one operator told that it had been waiting eight weeks for an IVA, but had been given no indication from the DVSA when its imported Mercedes would finally be tested.

Paul Ponsonby, director at Birmingham-based haulier Paul Ponsonby, said it was now desperate to get the Euro-6 Mercedes Actros 6x2, bodied at Ekeri in Finland, on the fleet and replacing a Euro-5 engine, but no-one from the DVSA was responding to its call for a test: “At the moment, we can’t even get anybody at Swansea to answer the phone,” he said.

“It’s a real difficulty for us.”

Rob Wise, director at Ekeri’s sole agent in the UK, Burntwood, said he could normally arrange an IVA test within four or five weeks: “You just can’t get through to those people,” he said.

“Everything has to be done by email. I started with Paul’s seven or eight weeks ago.”

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A DVSA spokesman admitted that its IVA service had not returned to the level customers expected and that the processes it introduced in response to Covid-19 were still in place: “Our ability to deliver a testing programme is also influenced by whether vehicles are presented in a compliant manner, the take-up of appointment bookings and our available Specialist Vehicle Standards Assessor resource,” the spokesman said.

“The reduction in our IVA service to support the testing of emergency services vehicles and other categories of vehicle by priority status means we now have a number of outstanding applications to process and schedule that were not within the vehicle categories that we prioritised during the lockdown period.

“We know that outstanding vehicles needing a test include applications from businesses who rely on vehicle approvals, as well as individual customers.”

The DVSA added that IVA applications should be made via the online application system and hauliers should also apply early, but to be realistic about when the vehicle is ready to be tested.

In addition, it said 30% of its calls to businesses are not being answered, so contact details need to cover business hours; provide additional test locations on applications; perform vehicle pre-checks; ensure the vehicle is Covid compliant and send a person with the vehicle who understands IVAs.