Almost 5,000 HGV learner drivers lost more than £180,000 last year due to suspended practical tests, according to freedom of information data.

The DVSA said 4,868 theory test certificates expired in 2020, at a cost of £37 for both parts of the test.

This equates to a total cost of £180,116.

The lockdowns imposed on the country meant tests were paused as test centres closed.

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it has no plans to extend certificate expiration dates.

Insurer Marmalade, which collated the information, said that if all learners paid to retake their HGV test, combined with the loss of the expired certificate, it would equate to a total outgoing of £360,232.

It said that based on the 149 days of delays in 2020 where tests were paused, an average of 33 certificates expired daily.

Marmalade said that with test centres now closed again and the government refusing to extend expiration dates of certificates, HGV learner drivers face the same problem they did last year.

Crispin Moger, Marmalade chief executive, said: “I don’t doubt that there will have been many learners that would have planned to take their test during the time periods affected by the multiple UK lockdowns and will now have lost through no fault of their own.

“Learners whose certificates have expired will need to take the test and pass it again before they can take their practical test adding yet more time to their wait, adding to the backlog we are already expected to see in 2021.”

Moger added: “We have previously launched a petition to ask the government to extend these certificates by three months to allow learners the chance to qualify as soon as it’s possible, something which will also ease waiting times and pressure on theory test centres once they reopen.

“Northern Ireland has announced an extension, while the UK government has said they will not be extending the period, something which will have certainly come as a blow to learners.”

But the DfT said the time limit between passing a theory test and a practical test was in place for road safety reasons and it would not extend it.

Responding to the petition, it said: “Those with theory test certificates expiring will have taken their test in early 2019.

“Since then, their lessons and practice sessions will have been significantly curtailed during recent lockdowns and it is likely that their knowledge base will have diminished.

“Research suggests that this would be particularly harmful for hazard perception skills, a key factor in road safety.”