Proposals to raise the costs of vehicle testing at Vosa test stations this year will generate an extra £4.2m for the agency from its customers, but just £1.7m of this will be channelled into lowering the charges it applies for vehicle tests at authorised testing facilities (ATFs), it has emerged. Vosa recently announced a consultation on plans for a range of new fees that would see the charges payable for vehicle tests at its test stations rise by 15%-20% in the 2013-14 financial year, subject to vehicle type. The move is intended to allow Vosa to lower the charges it applies to ATFs for the provision of testing services, helping to encourage the use of private facilities and making testing fees fairer.

A spokesman for Vosa has confirmed to, however, that just £1.7m of the additional funds raised from its test station customers will actually find its way into reducing ATF costs because of the additional travel time and expenses involved for vehicle inspectors.

“Although having tests where, or nearer to where, vehicles are prepared benefits operators by reducing time off the road and the cost to take vehicles to Vosa facilities, which on average is a longer journey, it means Vosa inspectors are less efficient,” he explained. “This is expected to increase Vosa’s costs by about £2.5m which means there is only about £1.7m remaining to run reduced Vosa fees at ATFs.”

Stephen Smith, president of the ATF Operators Association and director of Essex haulier Boleyn Transport, said he was disappointed the move to rebalance fees would not generate bigger cuts in the amounts Vosa charged ATFs and that, while the new fees proposals were very welcome, they probably wouldn’t drive more testing at ATFs as it still left them charging more for their tests than Vosa, once their own fees were added.

“If I were equidistant between an ATF charging me more and a Vosa test station I was already using, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid,” he said. “If it’s cheaper for a haulier to use his local Vosa test station, he will do that.”