Government licence check fiasco deepens
15 December 2009
Parliamentary questions posed as a result of BusinessCar's investigation into Government licence checking standards have uncovered even more worrying fleet safety issues.
The questions have revealed variations in the knowledge and desire of Whitehall departments to ensure that their employees driving on work business are legally allowed to do so.
Senior minister Dr Stephen Ladyman registered a parliamentary question with all departments earlier this month, asking about the mechanisms in place to ensure all staff driving for work, either with company or grey fleet vehicles, have a valid driving licence.
The response from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport was particularly insightful. The official written response to Dr Ladyman's question included the statement: "There is no requirement for employees to demonstrate that they are licensed to drive." The Department of Health admitted it makes grey fleet staff "personally responsible for ensuring that insurance and other driving documentation requirements are met".
"Very few staff would ever drive a car while on departmental business and we would encourage them to use public transport," a DCMS spokesman told BusinessCar. "We are currently reviewing what is required of staff and considering whether to require a licence to be produced on each occasion a private or hire car is driven and whether to retain licence details on personnel files."
BusinessCar's exposé led to an invitation to meet with Dr Ladyman alongside senior representatives from fleet association ACFO, to discuss the current lack of legislation and guidance offered on the issue. ACFO agreed to the politician's call for the association to establish a best-practice guide to help end the licence-check inconsistencies illustrated by the Government's own departments.
The best practice advice is currently being completed ahead of ACFO approval and another meeting involving BusinessCar, senior ACFO members again and Dr Ladyman in early 2010.
ACFO's north-west regional chairman and consultant for Fleet Risk Nigel Grainger told BusinessCar it is an employer's responsibility to "ensure that all persons driving on the business of the company or organisation are legally entitled to do so".
But ACFO chairman Julie Jenner said the Government department's responses illustrate why a best practice guide is needed, to help the industry understand how best to comply with duty of care responsibilities.