DVLA: one example of what demerging means

Just like the diligent, exhaustive research done by ICAS on pensions, each of the topics identified in the recent article, New major financial issue, supposing Scotland voted Yes to independence, deserves equivalent quasi-academic scrutiny and analysis.

Here are some quick thoughts for starters on one of these – the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority [DVLA].

I chose this because one of the comments on this article from ‘Fletcher of Saltoun’ splendidly reveals his own ignorance when he asks: ‘Vehicle licensing. Just how difficult do you think that is?’; and because a comment from ‘Simon’ described these matters as ‘teething problems’.

These costs and set-up tasks are not mere ‘teething problems’ – that would be touchingly naïve, were it not so dangerously ignorant.

In my daily working life I help all sorts of organisations with big transformation projects – usually new and upgraded IT systems and also mergers and de-mergers.  Separating – effectively demerging – the DVLA, to take just one example, would be neither cheap nor straightforward.

Take it from me – it’s a cast-iron certainty that it would be difficult; more expensive than initially budgeted; take longer than planned; result in loss of features currently enjoyed; and result in future divergence from innovations that would take place in the rest of the UK after any vote in favour of separation.

And then you can multiply that for every other agency and institution that needs to be demerged and separated.

Take just one function of the DVLA – renewing tax discs: You might imagine it’s just a payment system for renewing your tax disc, but this one process requires [amongst other things]:

  • Interfaces with all UK insurances companies – that themselves need to be approved by the DVLA – to check vehicles are validly insured, by legitimate insurance organisations.
  • Approving and inspecting garages authorised to do MOTs – and maintaining the systems whereby they can securely record, electronically, the MOT status of vehicles.
  • Accepting newly manufactured cars onto its systems and registers, with associated vehicle details, like CO2 rating.
  • Maintaining and updating vehicle registers, recording those stolen, written off, on which there are still outstanding HP payments, exported, etc.
  • Links to the Police National Computer and to all police organisations across the UK, recording relevant vehicle data.
  • Links to post offices providing a face-to-face service.

Let’s stop there for now.

The British DVLA is self-funded, so the ‘8% Scottish population share’ of its costs would NOT be saved by the tax-payer in isolating the Scottish components of this service.  But it would still require a new Scottish Government to establish a separate service, independently.  So all one-off transition costs would need to be funded exclusively by Scottish tax-payers.  And on a continuing basis, it would be reasonable to expect a future tax disc / vehicle registration to be priced to owners at the level of what it costs to the Scottish government to issue the registration – meaning that it would continue to be a self-financing system.

Yes, Scotland could choose to inherit a ‘copy’ of the software and the database of Scotland registered vehicles… And legally, a deal might be possible to transfer across the legal agreements between all these parties – insurers, garages, etc.  But in future, all systems and changes would be for an independent Scotland to operate, maintain and fund.

Of course it’s all entirely possible for Scotland to do this solo.  In fact, setting up all these new legal, financial and IT systems will be a ten-year , not 18 month, bonanza for people like me, whose business is helping organisations to implement exactly these sorts of changes.

And that is where the significant one-off costs would occur.

New staff would need to be recruited – I’m guessing you won’t get 8% transferring north from Swansea – so recruitment is your first new overhead cost.  Just like new offices, training, transition costs, new equipment and facilities, upgrading technology, IT testing, professional fees – lawyers and accountants, etc, etc.

All demerged organisations incur these costs – among many more.  No escape.  Don’t expect the rest of the UK to grant anything more than copies of the contracts being novated and replicas of the IT.  Why should tax-payers in England, Northern Ireland and Wales pay for something they didn’t ask for and had no say over?

Then on an on-going basis – after the one-off set up and transition – we’d need both to:

  1. Operate the system efficiently – to make sure that the price of the tax disc to the vehicle owner is the same as the costs incurred by the Scottish DVLA.
  2. Upgrade and improve the processes – the UK one has been creative and innovative over recent years, invested in new technology like the online renewals systems.

At the moment all overheads are paid for by 34 million vehicles owners in Britain.

We’d need to recoup overheads over a much smaller population – 2.75 million vehicle owners in Scotland.

It’s for the Scottish Government and Yes Scotland to demonstrate that we won’t be paying lots more for tax discs and vehicle registrations.

I believe ongoing costs will be higher per vehicle because there are many fewer renewals and new vehicles over which to spread your overhead costs.  There’s a real strength in numbers / efficiency argument to having a Great Britain-wide DVLA. [Ed: Northern Ireland has always operated its own system.]

But regardless of whether the price is marginally or significantly higher, what’s all this upheaval been for?  What have we gained?  The right to set our own vehicle registration fee at a higher rate?  And what have we lost?  Well, here’s a couple of intriguing questions that get thrown up – far from ‘teething problems’…

  • A vehicle owner moves between Scotland and another part of the rUK – do you need to re-register your vehicle, and pay again?
  • Insurance companies in future have two separate systems with which to share data and agree legal compliance procedures – do they increase their prices to drivers in Scotland to pay for this additional cost to them?
  • All garages in Scotland will – on a one-off basis –need to change their procedures; they’ll have a new agency to which they submit MOT details. And probably – for a period – run with two sets of arrangement while things transition.  What does this cost these businesses?  Will they be able to do an MOT for an rUK registered vehicle?
  • Many people use Autotrader and similar companies to check a vehicle’s status; so will a potential vehicle buyer in Scotland need to pay for two separate vehicle checks?  In case the vehicle has an outstanding loan in England even though it’s being bought in Scotland?

All these answers can be found in due course – but it’s all an utter waste of time, money and energy. Right now, we already have now a perfectly good, secure vehicle registration system.

Our politicians should be worrying about re-floating our economy, getting young people into jobs, fixing the failures in our health service, supporting vulnerable children in care, improving education.

Yet the SNP government is obsessing over how to replace a good vehicle licensing operation with what will probably be a pricier, weaker one.  Or worse, pretending it will be ‘cheaper and better’ in an independent Scotland.

Just for once, it would be good to hear them say ‘you know what, it might be tricky, and it will cost more’.  I’d respect them more for that honesty than trying to buy our support with pathetic, bland platitudes.

This article has been contributed by a reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

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73 Responses to DVLA: one example of what demerging means

  1. Think I read that a contract would/could get drawn up with Swansea to retain DVLA services should Scotland become independent … maybe not forever but for many years

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  2. I think a lot of services like that might continue to be supplied by the existing UK organisation but there could be higher costs because they will have change their systems and have more complexity. It should be remembered that the DVLA has a poor record for competence!

    I can imagine the big companies that provide this sort of service to large organisations will be sniffing around Edinburgh trying to ‘influence’ decision makers to get contracts like these (and all will cost more than the existing systems).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 8

  3. “I think a lot of services like that might continue to be supplied by the existing UK organisation”

    What makes you think that ?

    Its the standard nationalist cop out to a difficult question, with zero foundation of any experience in such matters.

    Has the SNP asked Swansea if they can do this ?

    Do any other European countries provide crossborder services such as licencing, tax collection, pension payments etc etc to a foreign country ?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

      • You nationalists just can’t help leaving open goals.

        Go on then; justify yourself with some examples !

        Quickly, mind, I’m breaking up with laughter up here.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

        • Epic Fail H20.

          Not even one example !

          I thought you could, at least, have used the example of Italy providing vehicle licencing for The Vatican State and also San Marino.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        • Herby up here? Are you on a ladder? Be careful,

          Cross border policing,

          You Uk nationalists cannot help but be negative – I think it must cheer you up!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      • My apologies.
        Those who know their twentieth century history and the horrors which nationalism led to would, rightly, feel insulted at being called a nationalist.
        Most intelligent and modern liberal people consider it an evil creed, best left in the dustbin of the past, and prefer a society which is unified in common purpose
        I hope no-one here is a (Scottish) nationalist, but if there is one or two I’ll try to refer to you using something less insulting than the term nationalist.
        Apologies again for using the “N” word.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        • I am a Scot .
          I live in Scotland
          I am a Nationalist and patriotic
          I am a social democrat

          What’s your problem?

          Insult – is probably all the argument you have left.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  4. We still haven’t had a single word from John Swinney as to how much the final cost will be to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK. When my son started a new business some years ago he borrowed a large sum from a scottish bank, obviously he had to give detailed costs to finance the business, he would of been laughed out of the room if he’d of simply said ” just trust me it’ll all work out fine, I’l let you know how much my I need to borrow in a few years time”.

    Thats exactly what the SNP are asking of the people of Scotland, vote for independence and we’ll let you know how it’ll all work after September 19th 2014. Do you really expect me to vote yes to that?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

    • No I am sure you will vote no. Surprised your son went to a bank to become independent, surely his mammy would pay for it all as he is too wee, too daft etc etc.

      Glad to see he stood on his own 2 feet and made his way in the world without his mammy’s help.

      Don’t worry I am sure he is still your son.

      Independent mind

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 18

  5. Why doesn’t Mr Salmond want to talk about the referendum anymore. At the Isle of Skye community land Scotland conference he was the key note speaker, he didn’t say a word about independence, even when asked!? He knows the vote is already lost, the good people of Scotland have got more sense.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  6. Desperate stuff. I cannot be bothered counting the words in the article but I have to conclude that Lynda Henderson is either rather over awed by software or just being disingenuous. I’m not going to bother commenting on this in detail. Instead I’ll just point the gentle readers towards the Isle of Man (population 83,000)who admirably run their own vehicle licencing system – just how do they manage it? They must be so much smarter than we dumb Scots eh? If anyone is interested here is the link: http://www.gov.im/transport/highways/DandV/registration.xml
    and you can also find some answers to some of Lynda henderson’s questions there as well.

    Personally, I would be quite happy with our own licensing body: it might not be so keen on selling our personal data to private companies and off shoring software and database development to India.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

    • Still singing my name, Fletch – instead of offering any substantive response at all to the detail of this highly informed analysis.
      And this relates to only one function of the work of the DVLA.
      The article make clear that software may not be part of issue as copy of the GB software might be negotiated.
      You also try a decoy by saying that the Isle of Mar ‘run their own system’.
      The article does not suggest that Scotland could not ‘run’ its own system.
      The issue is the time and cost of building an independent driver and vehicle licensing system – because even if we negotiated a copy of the GB software, its databases would have to be edited, populated from paid-for sources; and issues of mutual cross-border access to some areas negotiated.

      Northern Ireland operates its own separate DVLA system: http://www.dvlni.gov.uk/dvlni.aspx

      For various historic reasons – that stretch back many years, and relate in part to cooperation with the South – it kept this public administration, and never integrated with Swansea operations. So it provides a helpful model of what things could look like.
      Key differences -
      - virtually nothing can be done on-line – transactional stuff must be done in person/ writing – the investment costs of introducing on-line services are too much for a smaller population base – the overheads argument again
      - they’re not part of the GB insurer approval system – again, it required investment they felt they couldn’t justify, I believe, and weren’t going to offer parallel services – as a result many insurers choose not to cover NI – you see it on the TV some adverts, and it angers a lot of NI drivers that they can’t get offers and prices available in the rest of the UK.

      There are quite a few things where you can look over the water and see what our future might be.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

      • OK Lynda: tell us – just how much would it cost an independent Scotland to have its own vehicle licensing system? Have you nay idea or are you just waving your hands around saying that it will be VAAAAST?

        Really, this obsession with trying to scare Scots out of taking charge of our own affairs by the tawdry tactic of suggesting it will cost huge amounts of money (but without quantifying this) is pretty tedious. Why don’t you have a go at debating the real issue: should Scotland be an independent country?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11

        • Lynda has many talents, I’m sure you’d agree Fletcher. But producing a fully costed plan for setting up an independent DVLA is a bit much to ask, alongside her other editing responsibilities ;)

          In any case, we’re all fully expecting the SNP to tell us what it will cost to set up a separate DVLA. It is their proposal after all, to split off such services and establish stand-alone agencies.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

          • Mairi: as I’m sure they will. My point, however, is that Lynda Henderson is trying to scare people by suggesting that independence will have huge costs but she is incapable of defining what these costs are. My point is that everyone else seems to manage these things fine and what we should be focussing on is the question of whether or not Scotland should be independent not can Scotland afford to be independent (which it obviously can).

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 12

          • This is for Fletcher below.
            It is laughable to try to blame me for not being able to provide full costs of the setup for the independence prospectus.
            The Scottish Government – with the immense and publicly funded resources at its disposal – has had from May 2007 to do this and has not done so – or has certainly not shared anything of substance with the electorate.

            You and others persist in avoiding an address of serious issues by trying to demonise and misrepresent rationalists – like me – who are simply working to discover and describe the realities that separation from the union would involve.
            This aggressively defensive tactic illuminates the absolute lack of straight answers to hard questions from the Yes Scotland supporters.

            Only an idiot would imagine that, in the 21st century, separating one part of a 300 year mature union, would not give rise to hard questions, to hard situations and to bleeding.
            People being asked to vote away one set of long established rights in exchange for a new set have to be told exactly what that will involve. This will not be a reversible decision and no one should be asked to make such a decision on a false or incomplete prospectus.

            Independence WILL cost a great deal – it absolutely cannot be otherwise, as we will continue to show from a rational and not a points-scoring perspective.
            The cost of independence does not mean that many will not find that price worth paying. This is an honourable position but the costs – in money, in time, in disruption and in the limits to the independence proposed – must, in honour, be laid out for them.
            A failure to do this looks like an attempt trying to trick Scots into independence.
            If Scotland is given the realities, looks them straight in the eye and votes for separation, we will, as we have repeatedly said, throw all we can do into helping to make that work.
            But with the key issues being stifled, trivialised and brushed aside rather than aired and addressed – as you attempt to do in your abuse of For Argyll – we are not going to be pressured into failing to highlight the issues that DO have to be confronted rather then buried or dismissed.
            In rationally describing the challenges and assessing their weight, we are abusing no one and nothing. We are contributing to filling a very evident information gap, in the public interest.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

      • Based on your argument shouldn’t we join up with Europe and have 1 system – economies of scale

        Oh I know the response to that.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

      • “Why should tax-payers in England, Northern Ireland and Wales pay for something they didn’t ask for and had no say over?”

        We’ve been doing it for years…!

        “software may not be part of issue as copy of the GB software might be negotiated.”

        I think we already own part of it anyway!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    • There is an easy answer to no selling data and off-shoring. The taxpayer steps up and covers those revenues and savings that are lost by not doing so.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Always suspicious of the good faith of people who remain anonymous.

    I’d have more respect for the author if he or she would suggest how the funding of transport could be improved and see if that could and would be delivered better or part of the UK or

    One should look at it not necessarily from the cheapest option the one which delivers a robust service most efficiently.

    Who said we would continue with a DVLA type system

    Think of the alternatives and no more potholes

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

    • “Who said we would continue with a DVLA type system”

      That’s a good challenge, Graeme, and I certainly hope the SNP will tell us if they’re got any plans to abandon the robust vehicle licensing system we enjoy right now.

      Another benefit of our current GB-wide system is the link up to motorway cameras. Many speeding and other traffic offences are detected, unlicensed / uninsured vehicles stopped, by virtue of the motorway cameras and their number-plate recognition technology. Our integrated databases mean that ‘wanted’ cars are detected – often for non-traffic related matters too. That technology traced the putative ‘airport bombers’ on the M6, in 2007, shortly after the Glasgow Airport attack.

      I dare say that independent countries could agree to collaborate on such matters after independence. But it’s certainly not guaranteed. And it works more or less seamlessly right now. In fact, the cooperation that June weekend in 2007 between Scottish police, Salmond & MacAskill, the Met police, security agencies, and the UK cabinet COBRA committee was a model of how well served we are by the current arrangements. A really positive case for the union, in my view.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  8. A couple of kids from Dundee could set this up in their playtime.
    Seriously though, the UK driving licence is now very much a security card as well. Like your passport, with which it shares your data, it is chipped so you can be identified from a reader. Once your details are on the system anyone can buy into it and attach as much of your information as they like. They check your insurance in a second when you pay your road tax online and you don’t need to produce proof of identity when you open an online bank account.
    How far do you think they will take it for spying on us, given the news that our government and the US have been doing just that for 10 years? Do you think they will install sensors in the streets so that the police will be able to take your card into their vehicle and get your track laid out on a map like the marine AIS programs do for the ships or, if they are looking for you, simply put your ID into their program and see the last sensor you passed.
    Maybe we would be better off with the old system in a new Free Nation.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  9. Since Mr Swinney has been silenced by Mr Salmond with regards to all matters financial surronding the Referendum I don’t expect anytime soon to hear a word from the SNP on how much seperation will cost, and you can be sure the cost will be met by the tax payers and businesses of Scotland.

    At least Mr Swinney was right about the state pension, an Independent Scotland won’t be able to afford them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  10. Newsie (if indeed is was you that wrote the article) “deserves equivalent quasi-academic scrutiny and analysis.”

    Rubbish. Complete and utter rubbish.

    That article is not ‘quasi-academic scrutiny and analysis’ – it’s scaremongering pure and simple.

    An independent Scotland could choose to pay the DVLA an agency fee to continue to operate the system on behalf of a Scottish govt. This fee could be increased to take account of additional work and decreased to take account of benefits achieved through further innovative technology.


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

    • If I had written this piece, I would have said so.
      We chose to have the DVLA situation looked at because it appears simple to the uninitiated – and by showing just what one aspect of that one system alone actually involves, give people a sense of the immensity of what Scotland may decide to undertake.
      There is no reason for Scotland NOT to choose to take on an immense challenge, so long as it is aware that this is what it will be.
      There is nothing scaremongering about this article or about the intention behind it. If one finds the realities scaring, which you and others appear to do since you use the word, it does not mean that you have been scaremongered. It means you’re beginning to understand the practical implications of the independence proposition. And of course they will be substantial.
      That does not mean that you or anyone will choose not to vote for independence. It means you will understand more accurately what this will involve and you will accept this in the decision you make.
      What this article does is, from a highly experienced and knowledgeable professional perspective, lay out just what is involved in building what superficially seems a simple system.
      This demonstrates – when multiplied by the total number and scale of the necessary systems – what separation will actually involve, in cost, time and expertise.
      As the article says, this does not at all mean that Scotland COULD not do it. It asks the practical question why Scotland SHOULD do it – putting so much time, effort and cost into something that would leave us with a potentially less robust system at a higher usage fee?
      Why should such questions not be put? They are well founded and legitimate questions.
      Your ‘solution’ of paying to use the UK DVLA system – which would have implications you seem to be unaware of but which this article points towards – would, by your logic, have to be replicated in paying to use UK systems and resources across almost all items on the list we have correctly identified as needing to be in place for independence.
      It is no more than rational to question the viability of the cost-benefit ratio of this; and to weigh up what is left of ‘independence’ in the degree of continuing dependency envisaged or inevitable.
      All that matters is for Scotland to know the score before it decides what it wants to do.
      It is unthinkable that Scotland should make – or want to make – an uninformed or misinformed decision of this magnitude. And why would anyone wish Scotland to choose such a step in ignorance?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

      • Newsie, “If I had written this piece, I would have said so.”
        I knew it wasn’t you. ;)

        There was none of that bombastic, overblown, elongated, tortured prose in the article. :)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      • Please explain how the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will look in 10 years 20 years 30 years.

        Will it be better or worse?

        How many wars will be have been fought?
        Will it be a progressive state or will it be full of anti immigrant, Anti- French, anti-German anti-Dutch, anti everybody “Little Englanders” in charge
        Will we still have nuclear weapons?
        Will we have our national health service still?
        If we have a high speed train service to serve the “nation” will it stop at Birmingham?
        Will we have only one upper class and an underclass?
        Will Serfdom return?
        Will the Tories have more than one seat in Scotland?
        Will there be a Northern Ireland?
        What currency will be in use? Dollar? Yen? Dirham’s?
        Will Farage be in Madame Tussauds next to the dodo, ( or Alistair Darling ), The end of boom and bust Brown , Anthony Blair and Cameron with Osborne under the heading of Porkie Pies?
        Clegg bailed out for Spain?
        Toward investigation ongoing?
        Newsie predicts imminent resignations

        These Are some of the questions I need answered 100% accurately before I would even consider voting No.


        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. The IT costs of dealing with Independence would almost literally be off the scale. You just cannot imagine. This is 2013, that means mega bucks to replace or integrate existing and legacy systems. Don`t believe me? Just research failed government IT systems across the world. It will give you an idea.
    We`re talking billions.

    That is all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  12. Well, after reading the endless stories on here of the economic doom that awaits I for one am now convinced that Scotland could never afford independence.

    I can’t help wondering though how other countries have managed it without bankrupting themselves. It’s a mystery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  13. There must be a lot of truth in what Newsroom publishes because it seems to be scaring the life out of Mike Russell and Fletcher.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

    • It was hilarious this evening to hear Sturgeon (a nationalist) proposing that we continue use the UK pensions and welfare system come “independence”.

      What was all that B/S she and Salmond (another nationalist) were ramming down our throats a few months back that we could set up all our systems in the 18 months between a yes vote and their fantasy independence day in March 2016 ?

      They were convinced because of the evidence provided by countries like South Sudan doing it in less time.

      What idiots.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

      • Herby spacious I think we know which party Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon support..

        The currently have a majority In the Scottish parliament!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  14. Murdoch. “A few kids in Dundee could set this up”. Could you provide evidence to back up that assertion? No, didn’t think you could.
    For my part, I’ve spent my entire life working on major IT projects. My experience is that splitting or replicating Established systems (such as DVLA, but we can add in pensions, NI, tax and countless more) is a massive undertaking, the scale of which politicians always underestimate. (Actually, managers in the private sector get it wrong too – but it’s easier for them to hide their mistakes than it is with public procurement). Scotland could of course ‘out source’ this and buy in service from existing providers, but if you do that then what benefit has independence given you?
    By all means, make a reasoned case on why Scotland might be better to leave the Union, but don’t pretend that it would be an inexpensive undertaking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  15. The ‘few kids in Dundee’ remark is utter nonsense and hopefully a tad tongue in cheek. Like IslandDweller I have been involved in some fairly major IT ‘demerge’ projects and it is far more complicated than most people imagine it to be (and I include myself as I thought it was going to be fairly straight forward).

    On a more general point though there seems to be a growing camp who think that independence will mean Scotland have to do absolutely everything themselves and have it geographically located within Scotland. There is no reason for that to be the case. If Scotland are prepared to foot the bill there is no reason why things like vehicle licensing (just as one example)can be administered from its existing location using the existing systems. Scotland would benefit from a smoother transition into independence and rUK would benefit by retaining jobs.

    There would need to be some changes and obviously there would be costs associated with this but I don’t think it would need the level of change being projected in this article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    • If Scotland chose to retain the services of the DVLA and countless other agencies and ‘buy-in’ the services, how does that differ from privatising them? As a potential supplier and one with an almost guaranteed monopoly I think I’d be rubbing my hands at the prospect of making hay on an outsourced sale to a desperate neighbour who’d put themselves in that position.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      • It doesn’t really differ. A proper option appraisal would need to be carried out to weigh up the pros and cons. You are right in that the existing ‘supplier’ might see Scotland as desperate and therefore might feel they can charge a premium for the service. It would then be for the Scottish Govt to determine whether that premium is worth paying or whether the better route is to establish internal provision (which would bring employment).

        Equally the external supplier will need to balance the price they ask for with the risk of being rejected (and thus losing jobs and revenue).

        I am not saying that the outsourcing model is one to be adopted across the board, just saying it is an option which shouldn’t be overlooked.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

        • Oh, don’t mean to say it should be overlooked, but Scotland suddenly looks like a very ripe export market for whole swathes of public infrastructure. The point has been made several times, the volume of business Scotland adds is fairly marginal and incremental to the UK whole so loss of the business wouldn’t be devastating but would perhaps result in a managed decline in resources to deliver it. If those services happened to be in Scotland to start with, well. Who in the rest of UK is going to be that concerned about job losses north of the border anyway?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  16. I have a big problem with the overseas out-sourcing of public services in a newly independent Scotland. In some exceptional circumstances it can – perhaps – be justified. But it’s almost become the preferred modus operandi for the SNP. They seem to want to use it wholesale, and this starts to weaken democratic accountability. Never mind that it completely undermines the whole notion of what is independence.

    At the moment these DVLA services are subject to direct democratic oversight and accountability. As of now, the standards and performance of the DVLA are – ultimately – the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Transport. He or she can be called before OUR Parliament to answer questions, must cooperate with OUR Transport Select Committee, be directed to appear in front of any special inquiries, and generally be answerable for public services like the DVLA, in all of the UK, including Scotland. That is a cherished, democratic principle.

    How does this work in an independent Scotland? Do we try to hold a foreign minister to account? Or ask the Scottish Minister with the responsibility for overseeing this outsourced arrangement to answer questions about the service and its performance? If there are problems, I can see a scenario where one points the finger at the other, and we end up with a classic fudge. No-one was at fault , or worse, It wasn’t me – the bad boy did it and ran away.

    Of course, the most bizarre of these is the outsourcing of our very currency to what would then be a different country. Staying with the Pound would mean “out-sourcing” all the big monetary and fiscal levers to that foreign government. With absolutely no democratic accountability available to Scots. It really feels like our parliament and government would be emasculated under such arrangements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    • I would imagine issues such as performance etc would be clearly defined in service level agreements which would have penalties built in for not meeting minimum performance levels.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      • Service level agreements and penalties are notoriously difficult to get right – people rarely foresee all the future circumstances that might warrant their application.

        And if you get to the stage that you need to deploy penalties, things are in a mess, and the voting public will – rightly – have little patience. They expect public services to be delivered in a transparent way, with democratic scrutiny.

        It’s not unknown for out-sourced contractual arrangements that go wrong – often with faults on both sides – to result in lengthy and expensive legal wrangles. Not a place a newly independent country wants to find itself.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        • I can’t disagree with that Mairi. It is notoriously difficult to get right and in a situation like the one being talked about it is hard to see penalties being enforced, especially as Scotland would not be ‘protected’ by a regulatory body.

          I am guessing by the thumbs down to my comments there are people who think I am saying that ‘nothing to worry about here’ just signa few agreements and all will be ticketyboo. That isn’t what I am saying. What I am trying to say is that there is a little too much ‘everything must be transferred on day one and there are no alternatives, even transitional ones’.

          If there is a successful ‘YES’ vote and I am of the belief there won’t be then alternative models for delivery will need to be investigated and it is entirely right that both parties will be focused on their own best interest.

          If, for example, rUK says ‘No chance Scotland, we will administer our own welfare reform and you can administer your own DVLA’ then that is what will happen. However rUK will not do that just out of spite – if it is in their own interest to retain the current arrangements then they will be prepared to do that (and Scotland will have the same outlook)

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • A bigger problem is that the TTIP treaty now being negotiated may make ending outsourcing expensive and/or impractical.

      It may seem to be a convenient temporary measure which later proves to be irreversible.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  17. Scenario :

    Scotland gets indy from the rest of the United Kingdom….and then outsources governance services across the border or to the EU….we pay more. DVLA and Currency just small ( LMAO ) examples….lets face it we are joined at the hip…the nationalist dream is built on insecurity and greed for the black stuff….what a burach…
    When the oil goes…for whatever reason…Salmond thinks we can export electricity to the UK and EU from our swaths of turbines….why would anyone pay for this when they have secure energy in nuke.

    The SNP are digging a large black hole that will be populated by quangos and empty promises, and capped by handouts and begging letters….LMAO

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  18. The independence debate is misused my many who are primarily using it to promote their views on:

    Pro- or anti- Nuclear energy; Green energy
    Leaving the EU
    Joining the Euro
    Getting rid of WMD
    Neoliberal economics

    Does nobody want independence so that we can progress by building on Scotland’s enlightenment values; the Reformation originated respect for Education (and misunderstood parable of the talents; Health, Social security and justice inspired by Matthew 25?

    Do we prefer to be led by the successors of 19thC English gentry who have mistaken wealth for class and so consigned economics to fundamentalists of the Church of Adam Smith?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  19. There are many compelling reasons to vote ‘no’ to an independent Scotland but this isn’t one of them; the trickiest/most expensive part here isn’t the IT, it’s the papery data processing which is and will remain error-prone and labour intensive.

    The article has a few errors;
    The DVLA do not interface with all UK insurance companies – there’s one Motor Insurance Database(MID) run by the insurance companies.
    The DVLA do not approve and inspect garages authorised to do MOTs – this is VOSA’s job.
    The DVLA don’t do these things either, insurance companies keep some records, HPI/Experian etc. do others. HMRC are really the only organisation interested in vehicle imports/exports; recording those stolen, written off, on which there are still outstanding HP payments, exported, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • For db:
      None of these comments touch the overall principles. There seems to be a misunderstanding that it is the DVLA that controls the set of master-data the drives all the other databases. Point by point below:

      1: “The DVLA do not interface with all UK insurance companies – there’s one Motor Insurance Database(MID) run by the insurance companies.”

      A: DVLA does own and operate an interface to that database – the effect is the same – DVLA need to know that your insurance is valid before they issue a tax disc. There are also protocols and agreements between DVLA and the insurance industry about what constitutes a permissible insurer – the DVLA ultimately needs to be assured that the insurance is valid.

      2: “The DVLA do not approve and inspect garages authorised to do MOTs – this is VOSA’s job.”

      A: VOSA, like DVLA, belongs to the Department of Transport family of agencies; and they obviously all work together, sharing data via common databases and interfaces. But it is effectively another Agency that an independent Scotland would need to create…

      3: “The DVLA don’t do these things either, insurance companies keep some records, HPI/Experian etc. do others. –

      A: The point being made here is that they all need to share data to make the whole system work. That requires careful negotiation and management. Experian can only do what they do because the DVLA shares information with them.

      4: “HMRC are really the only organisation interested in vehicle imports/exports; recording those stolen, written off, on which there are still outstanding HP payments, exported, etc.

      A: Many organisations and individuals have an interest is such things. The police for one – and the PNC holds details of vehicles ‘of interest’ – including stolen. These processes are all linked, and use shared sources of data – the DVLA is the lynch-pin in all of this, since it’s responsible for the register of vehicles in Britain.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • It’s all a bit chicken little; it’s a mid-size database problem compared to others an independent Scotland will have to deal with; it’s pretty rubbish that the SNP won’t/can’t put an estimated figure on either creating a scottish DVLA or farming the work out to Swansea, but suggesting that it would take years to create or be impossibly expensive is rather over the top.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  20. Well, it’s becoming blindingly obvious from reading this blog that no-one will ever share any data – or anything else – with an independent Scotland.

    It is looking increasingly as though a YES vote is a vote for certain doom :-(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  21. Herbie Dice – re your post dated 11th June 8.48

    No need to apologise.
    I am voting ‘Yes’ and will continue activism for an independent Scotland till the grave.
    Pigeon hole me any way you see fit, Nationalist, social democrat, separatist but please do not mistake those of us who wish the country we live in to do what every other independent country takes for granted by aligning us with Nazism, a pathetic boring many times tried & failed weak inaccurate attempt to entwine us with that filth.

    You say “Most intelligent and modern liberal people consider it an evil creed”.
    The SNP should it be re-elected in 2016 post independence wish to keep Scotland a member of the EU, not very insular Herbie? Open borders, free to travel and integrate within EU member states.
    The union you support has a government unelected by this country, Scotland, who wish to shut off movement of peoples from other EU states by wrenching UK from the EU appeasing the UKIP movement down south.
    This sounds more insular and most definitely further to the right than an independent welcoming Scotland would be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

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