Last week the DVSA revealed that it would be cutting annual test fees at ATFs this autumn, a move that will surely be welcomed by ATF operators and their users alike. DVSA test fees, however, are set to increase, along with a 1% rise in operator licensing fees.

But with the agency admitting that, for customers paying an ATF put fee, it could still be cheaper to get trucks tested at a DVSA-owned site, The Hub decided to take a closer look at some of the responses to its consultation and the justifications behind the agency’s decision.

Over half (54%) of consultation respondents said they were not in favour of reducing the testing element of fees at ATFs and increasing fees at DVSA sites. One respondent said the proposals did not promote growth: “the current economic climate does not allow me to pass these costs on to our customers who are already finding things difficult in this time of austerity”. Another said: “Ideally an ATF fee [and] lane fee should roughly equal the fee at a [DVSA] site.”

With, what was formerly Vosa, cutting its historical deficit over the last few years, respondents were clearly keen to see some of the savings passed on to ATFs and their customers. Many suggested that fees at DVSA premises should be higher to ensure that tests at ATFs were always cheaper, but the DVSA pointed out that raising fees above cost level at its own premises would not be appropriate “since it would remove one element of competition pressure to keep their fees as low as possible”.

Operator licencing fees are also set to rise, despite 58% of respondents opposing an increase. It said this is needed to fund the interconnection of electronic registers for road transport, which has recently been incorporated into EU law.

“If [DVSA] were to try to absorb this additional cost, service delivery would suffer, leading to slower turnaround times for licensing transactions,” the agency said in its response.

The reduction in testing fees will benefit a greater number of customers, as the DVSA claims 70% of vehicle tests are now carried out at an ATF. However, the 30% that still get their vehicles tested at a DVSA site are unlikely to benefit from the £4.2m of estate costs that have been taken out of the fee for ATF tests from 1 October.