DVSA puts freeze on hiring ATF testers as crisis deepens

Carol Millett
September 13, 2018


The HGV testing crisis is set to get worse following the revelation that the DVSA’s chief executive Gareth Llewellyn has ordered a temporary recruitment freeze with immediate effect, CM can reveal.

The job freeze comes as the Authorised Testing Facility Operators Association (ATFOA) reported 13-week delays on HGV testing at 65% of authorised testing facilities (ATFs) due to a shortage of DVSA testers.

A review panel, which includes new enforcement director Marian Kitson, has also been set up to consider all operational and enforcement vacancies. 

News of the jobs freeze was revealed in a letter leaked to CM. The letter, from Llewellyn to DVSA staff, stated: “I am asking all directors to review their current and future vacancies and to temporarily pause all recruitment except where an offer of employment has already been made.” 

In the letter Llewellyn explained that the DVSA is “at risk of breaching its headcount target” at the half-year point. Stating that he does not want to compromise “the great investments” made on the DVSA’s Search app, commercial vehicle services and accommodation refurbishment programmes, he added: “A temporary pause on all recruitment – operational and non-operational – will give us the space to take stock and where necessary adjust our vacancy planning to help us meet our financial and headcount targets.”

FTA policy director Elizabeth de Jong said: “There is already a well-documented shortage of testing staff at the DVSA that is of great concern to the logistics industry and which the FTA has been pressing the agency to rectify in recent months.  

“If the proposed recruitment drive to alleviate this shortage of staff is to be suspended, how will the DVSA make up the shortfall in testers that already exists, to provide industry with the service it has paid for? The test fee paid by operators to maintain legal compliance is supposed to pay for testing and enforcement staff – we would expect these roles to be ringfenced and certainly not be included in any austerity review.”

ATFOA president Stephen Smith said: “I am amazed. There is already a critical shortage of testers and this is only going to make things worse.” 

In a statement, Llewellyn told CM: “We’ve implemented a temporary pause to recruitment to review our vacancies so we can continue to give excellent service to customers and make sure we employ people with the right skills in the right places.”

The DVSA said it has recruited 73 testers since April this year. However, an FoI request to the DVSA shared with CM covering the year to 31 March 2017 and year to 31 March 2018 shows that while there were 469 Vehicle Standard Assessors (ATF test staff) in the earlier period, this had fallen to 461 a year later, suggesting attempts to recruit are failing to keep pace with the number of staff leaving.

KBC Logistics in Purfleet contacted CM recently to tell how it was facing the prospect of having to move its fleet long distances for annual tests because of the shortage of ATF testers. In April ATF operators staged a protest at the DVSA's stand at the CV Show over the difficulties they were facing in booking HGV testers at their sites.

  • Are you struggling for availablity at your local ATF or are you an ATF that can't get enough tester resource? Email chris.druce@roadtransport.com the details of any delays or frustrations you've expereinced. And  don't forget you can sign up to our free fortnightly compliance newsletter to keep up to date with the latest legal news.

About the Author


Carol Millett

Carol Millett is an award-winning freelance journalist with over 30 years’ of experience writing across a broad range of sectors, including road transport, construction and civil engineering, project management, private finance, technology, HR, and travel and tourism. She is currently a regular contributor to a variety of DVV Media titles including Motor Transport Magazine, Commercial Motor and Transport News.

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