In the summer the Transport Select Committee revealed a number of concerns about Vosa's performance.

Enforcement, resourcing, the relationship of the agency with the traffic commissioners, reliance on OCRS, pace of the ATF roll out, and the HGV Road User Levy were all flagged in the committee's report (which, for the sake of balance, also praised Vosa in certain areas too).

This week we received the government's response, which as Motor Transport sister title Commercial Motor put it was effectively, 'don't worry, it's all been fixed'.

While The Hub is not about to throw a spanner in the works, it did pick out some interesting nuggets in the government's response beyond the headline narrative.


The privatisation of annual testing has been controversial for sure, but it continues at pace and the significant expansion of the private sector (some 360 locations now) and reduction in Vosa's own sites has, according to the DfT response, saved a significant £64m in site refurbishment and rebuild costs.

Although the ATF Operators Association's recent survey demonstrated a somewhat glass-half full attitude amongst its members, Vosa's own survey of ATF owners claims 96% are satisfied with the service provided by Vosa testers at their facility.

Traffic Commissioners

The Vosa/traffic commissioner relationship is like a marriage. No really. Vosa chief executive Alastair Peoples believes it is one "not made in heaven", while senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell says "we are trying very hard to make it work". It's like an episode of EastEnders.

The DfT suggested in its response that it could effectively end in divorce. It's carrying out a review that could see the current set-up continue, the TCs merged into another body, or out of central government, come in-house or become a free-standing service. In truth The Hub's a bit confused by all that, but in essence it sounds like pretty much everything is on the table.

HGV Road User Levy

Okay. It's a tax on foreign operators, and welcome. Therefore most would naturally conclude the government would use the estimated £20m a year it's forecast to raise as they see fit. Indeed, the DfT's response to the committee's question about whether Vosa will have enough resource to police it (which is a yes), concedes that the money is not ring-fenced, much the same as road tax. That might be somewhat 'so what' but it's the first official acknowledgment that The Hub can recall.


Having listened to senior TC Beverley Bell's evidence and others, the committee said it was worried that OCRS and Vosa's reliance on it could be distorting its enforcement targeting, effectively meaning larger operators were not being monitored as they should.

The DfT has flatly denied this, stating OCRS doesn't take fleet size into account and therefore this can't be the case. However, it adds that Vosa will be "seeking to look at risk through an ever widening lens". Net result? Not a deal with Canon but instead a trial of telematics data and automated tachograph analysis for enforcement purposes will begin in 2014.