The time taken for traffic commissioners to process goods vehicle licence applications has increased to 38 days as they struggle with the impact of the coronavirus.

Figures released by the office of the TC (OTC) showed that up to March of this year, they had driven down the average number of days to turn around a haulier’s application to 36.45 - and 134.8 days if it involved a public inquiry.

But the number of days rose to 38.01 and 136.84 respectively as the country entered lockdown and the TCs’ activities were curtailed.

This included the suspension of in-person public inquiries in March and they only resumed again on 6 July 2020.

The TCs have set a target to handle applications within 35 days by 31 March 2021.

In their most recent annual report, they said: “This is something the traffic commissioners have taken particularly seriously over the last year.

“At the very least service users require swift and efficient processing of applications.

“We were aware of some cases where applications were going unprocessed for months.”

However, the coronavirus epidemic has set their target ambitions back, although the report also pointed out that a recruitment freeze was also posing a challenge.

An OTC spokesman said: “The coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions had an impact across all parts of the traffic commissioner function, including the office of the traffic commissioner’s licensing team.

“This has contributed to an increase in processing times.

“The traffic commissioners have introduced measures to assist operators during this period, including the granting of interim licences to enable operators to start operations.

“They continue to work on business recovery with OTC staff.”