20 September 2022

The move to digital applications in 2020 supported the trade during the pandemic by ensuring individuals and business could continue to work. The licensing team offered one-on-one business advice and support, accepted incomplete applications, and provided direct access to licensing officers within the team, who provided significant support and guidance to the industry. This was only made possible due to other activities carried out by the team reducing significantly during this period.

This support meant we were dealing with an unprecedent numbers of incomplete and incorrect applications. Plus, a massive increase in the volume of contact with individual applicants both by email and by telephone. For clarity incorrect applications vary from missing supporting documentation(s) for:

  • medical fitness
  • conviction declaration
  • proof of right to work
  • DVLA summary
  • current photograph
  • HMRC tax code
  • and questions on the online form answered incorrectly.

This has significantly increased the time it takes to process an application and the number of interactions with the applicant. The team can no longer provide the level of support provided during the pandemic. This is now having a detrimental effect on processing times, officer availably and the timescales for issuing licences.

The number of emails received in the Licensing Unit inbox has double since the start of the pandemic, growing from 10,000 to 20,000+ emails yearly. The majority of these are applicants providing documents they failed to attach to the online form or providing answers to questions incorrectly answered on the online form following an email from the team. This figure doesn’t included applicants who are emailing individual officers several times, emailing the same questions or documents multiple times, or including several officers in the same email. As an example, today, a licence holder responded to an email sent by a member of the team confirming the licence had been issued with this response ‘when will I received it in the post’ this went to several officers who each responded. 

Regrettably, we can no longer handle these types of enquiries or the volume of errors on the online application forms.

To enable us to manage the volume and develop processes to sustain the workload ensuring licences are issued in goodtime the following steps will be introduced immediately:

  1. Incorrect driver applications, as outlined above, will be rejected and a refund issued.
  2. Any rejected applications will need to be resubmit with the error(s) corrected and the full fee paid, or the application will be rejected again, we do not offer a document checking service, all supporting documentation must be complete and attached in full, be in date and correct.
  3. Once issued licences will be forwarded from a ‘no response’ email address, any response must be directed to the inbox and these must only relate to errors on the licence.
  4. Once a licence has been issued the issuing officer will not respond to further enquiries in relation to any other matters, these must be directed to the email address outlined at c) above.
  5. Driver renewal applications need to be submitted 8weeks before the expiry of the licence.
  6. If a driver renewal application is received after this period, we cannot guarantee that the licence will be issued before expiry (please also see a) & b) above as the period only commences when a completed correct application has been submitted, applications rejected as outlined at a) will not count to this period), drivers are permitted to submit their renewal 12weeks before expiry.
  7. Officers will no longer deal with enquiries directed to their work mobile telephone numbers or their direct email address; all enquiries must be directed to 01204 336584 selecting option 1 and to the Licensing Unit email address which is provided at c) above.
  8. Full medical requirements must now be met in all instances, we will no longer issue a short licence to applicants, you must complete all the necessary paperwork in relation to your medical fitness in good time with your own doctor or your licence will not be renewed.
  9. Any emails sent to the licensing unit inbox that don’t contain the full name and address of the enquirer, including the date of birth, licence number and registration number of the vehicle cannot be dealt with.
  10. All drivers (excluding those already registered) will be transferred to the ‘Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service’ this year, we will be in contact over the next few months to complete, but please note we will not renew your licence if you have not subscribed to the update service when requested to do so.

Paying for your application – as part of the online application form you’re required to pay for the application online. You need to arrange with your bank online payments and ensure you’re able to complete your banks transaction verification procedure. Your bank will help you with this process. Please make sure you’re able to do this before accessing the online form. 

Your support and cooperation with this matter is truly appreciated. We’re working hard to upgrade the digital provision to a client account. This will really help with documentation and processing. We’ll continue to share amendments and changes to process by email, this includes the medical and conviction declarations as part of the form and not separate documentation, so it’s important you read any message sent to you from the licensing team.

In the meantime, if you’re experiencing difficulties in completing online forms, I’ve attached the Councils latest digital support offer. This outlines ways you can access support to use digital devices. It offers one-to-one support for individuals with basic digital skills needs at drop-ins at specifics times and locations across Bolton.

Digital Skills at Bolton Libraries and Museum Services

Plus, Bolton College provide free digital skills courses for all adults and details of these can be found here:

The One Stop Shop (OSS) will also be offering digital skills support and access to the computers in this space. A further email will be circulated to you confirming when this offer becomes available.