Ian Thomson's Blog: 27 March 2013 - Ditching the disc
27 March 2013
Ian Thomson is head of fleet operations for Lex Autolease
The recent news that the Government is considering abolishing the tax disc has been welcomed by the fleet sector. The BVRLA, which has been petitioning the Department of Transport for several years to axe the disc, estimates the Government could save up to £90m a year by making this change.
Introduced more than 90 years ago as a means of identifying whether a vehicle had been taxed, the disc has largely become redundant because the DVLA's computer systems can immediately relay this information to the police. In this new digital age only motoring traditionalists are likely to mourn the disc's passing.
Fleet operators also stand to make considerable savings if this change to the vehicle taxation process is introduced. As UK's largest fleet management provider, Lex Autolease processes more than 20,000 tax discs each month. Removing this administration cost would bring an immediate benefit to the company's bottom line.
It's not just the 20,000 or so discs issued each month that generates costs. During 2012 we also had to issue more than 7,000 replacement discs, each one of which creates additional processing and postal costs for the business.
Switching from a paper-based licensing system to a digital one will undoubtedly help the more absent minded or error prone fleet driver. Although the majority of duplicate discs we issue are to replace originals lost in the postal system, other requests for replacement discs can be a bit more random.
During the last 12 months we've replaced discs that have been eaten by small children, chewed up by animals and blown out of the window of a vehicle travelling on the M6. Several drivers have found that tax discs are not washing machine friendly, whilst a few more assumed we would know they had moved house, and were then surprised when their new tax disc went to their old address.
Although fleet operators will look to issue replacement discs as soon as possible, there will be a period where the driver can't display a valid tax disc and is therefore unable to legally drive the vehicle. If the driver chooses to get behind the wheel during this time they are liable for any fines or penalties incurred not their employer or the fleet operator.
The abolition of the tax disc would have the dual benefit of removing this headache for drivers whilst producing time and costs savings for fleet operators.