NIADIA representatives attended a NIAIC (Northern Ireland Approved Instructor Council) meeting with the DVA on 22nd January 2021.
Below is a list brief summary of some of the topics discussed. Please note that these are not the official minutes of the meeting.
Following yesterdays announcement from the NI Executive, DVA have confirmed that both theory tests and practical tests will remain suspended until at least the 5th March 2021. They have not yet confirmed a date for tests resuming, expected to be around the 8th March 2021, to allow a lead in time for tests candidates to receive some lessons prior to test. This is was the same thinking behind the lead in time when tests were due to resume in February, which NIADIA supported.
All test candidates who currently have access to the booking system will continue to have access. The recent correspondence sent to the ADIs by the DVA regarding the phased approach to opening the booking system for candidates with a theory test due to expire, has been postponed. The DVA will provide an update on when these candidates will have access to the booking system.
For clarity, below is a list of what candidates should have access to:
Priority access to candidates who've had a test cancelled during current or previous periods of restrictions. (These candidates should currently have access to the booking system).
Priority access to candidates who's application was accepted as being a key worker in the original key-worker scheme. (These candidates should currently have access to the booking system).
Priority access for candidates who's theory tests are due to expire. (The booking system is not currently open for these candidates but is due to open prior to the system being made available for the general public).
The DVA have stated that, at present, they are not cancelling tests on the booking system between 6th February 2021 and 5th March 2021. Whilst these tests will not be conduced due to the lockdown extension, they have left on the booking system to allow these customers to change them to a suitable date themselves using the 'change test booking' facility. Please contact your clients that may have a test scheduled between these dates to advise them to rebook for a time outside the current restrictions.
Categories of Driver Testing
DVA stated that measures are now in place to facilitate all categories of driver testing when tests are allowed to resume.
Whilst theory tests are cancelled for the moment, the DVA have advised that Pearsons (the contractor who delivers UK theory tests) is working hard on measures to increase capacity when testing resumes.
Concerns have been raised by members regarding the 'premium rate' for weekend driving tests. Currently a weekend tests costs £62.50 and a weekday test costs £45.50. It was mentioned that, given the significant backlog of driving tests, many candidates will not have a viable choice of test dates and may have to sit their test on a weekend. NIADIA feel this financially penalises candidates when no weekday tests are available. The DVA stated that legislation defines the test fees and they are significantly lower overall than their counterparts in Great Britain. They have been asked to review this 'premium rate' and look into a solution for these candidates so they are not further disadvantaged by this increased rate.
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list of the topics discussed at the NIAIC/DVA meeting, some information has not been shared for Data Protection reasons or because there is no definitive update available at the moment.
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