EXC: Tory fury at ‘outrageous and insulting’ £2.2m bonuses for DVLA staff despite licence backlog shambles and claims workers were ‘paid to watch Netflix’ during Covid
Tories today lashed out at ‘grossly insulting’ and ‘outrageous’ DVLA bonuses in the wake of the shambles over licences.
Figures slipped out by the Department for Transport this week reveal that staff were handed nearly £2.2million in ‘performance payments’ for the last financial year.
The perks came despite fury at the massive backlogs and delays in issuing and renewing driving licences, which has been causing misery for thousands of Britons and adding to pressure on supply chains.
Hundreds of DVLA staff were said to have been sent home on full pay during the pandemic without having to work at all.
An undercover investigation found workers joked about catching up on Netflix series.
The disruption was made worse by dozens of days of strike action as unions complained the agency’s offices were not Covid-secure.
Ministers claim that workers being out of the office meant not all the 60,000 items of post that arrive at DVLA every day were opened – with the backlog in licence applications growing to 1.2million. It has now been cut to around 300,000 after more staff were drafted in.
Hundreds of DVLA staff were said to have been sent home on full pay during the pandemic without having to work at all
Figures slipped out by the Department for Transport (Grant Shapps pictured) this week reveal that staff were handed nearly £2.2million in ‘performance payments’ for the last financial year
The DfT transparency disclosure revealed that £2,163,414 was paid in non-consolidated bonuses at DVLA – one of the department’s executive agencies. Sources said that sum was the total for 2021-22, and stressed that most of the 11,000 staff are in lower-paid roles.
However, there is no breakdown of what bonuses were received at different levels.
Tory MP David Jones told MailOnline it was ‘outrageous’ that staff had been handed bonuses for ‘staying at home and not dealing with applications’.
‘It’s a close run thing as to which is causing more complaints at the moment, the DVLA or the Passport Office,’ he said.
‘The public perception of the DVLA at the moment is at rock bottom. There are people across the country waiting for their driving licences who are being bitterly inconvenienced.
‘The DVLA also appear to be ahead of the rest of the field at staying at home to work. This is really grossly insulting to people who have had such a bad experience at the hands of the DVLA.
‘If we were talking about payments to MPs the country would be up in arms. I think the country will also be up in arms that £2million of bonuses are being handed out to people who have let them down so badly.
‘This is outrageous. The DfT should be putting a stop to that.’
A DVLA spokesman said: ‘These awards form part of a civil service-wide recognition scheme.
‘Our staff have worked incredibly hard to help keep the country moving throughout the pandemic and despite a number of issues including coordinated industrial action, our services are operating within normal turnaround times as paper applications are being processed within three to four weeks.
‘Throughout the pandemic, all staff whose role required them to be on site, were on site, opening and processing the 60,000 items of mail we receive daily.’
On a podcast last week, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has been spearheading a drive to get civil servants back to offices – said problems at DVLA arose because ‘simply the post didn’t get opened’ during Covid.
‘So people who had written in to get their driving licence renewed, didn’t have it attended to because there weren’t people going in to open it,’ he said.
Ministers claim that workers being out of the office meant not all the 60,000 items of post that arrive at DVLA every day were opened – with the backlog in licence applications growing to 1.2million. It has now been cut to around 300,000