Our recent headline in MOT Testing magazine informed readers that the MOT fee, frozen since 2010 will remain frozen until April 2014.
And that even though tentative discussions on the 2014 fee were started last Summer, they were halted when Department for Transport (DfT) Officials had to spend all their time dealing with the latest EU expensive MOT proposals. However, following a joint meeting between the MOT Trade Forum and Senior DfT officials in mid-January, negotiations have re-commenced. An MOT ‘fee sub-group’ of the MOT Trade Forum (consisting of Jim Punter, editor of MOT Testing and the Forum’s Chairman, Bill Duffy, the CEO of Halford’s Autocentres together with John Ball, proprietor of a small group of VTSs in the South of England), ‘worked up’ a comprehensive set of proposals for the future of the MOT fee. Their proposals were put to DfT officials at their offices in London at the end of February.
A three-stage ‘bid’
The proposition put to the DfT was not just for a revision of the maximum fee, but to develop the procedure by which the fee is regularly revised, and some innovative ways of using the fee into the future after 2014 to both improve road safety, and to reduce MOT Testing errors.
An increased Fee
After MOT computerisation in 2005, an extensive timing exercise was undertaken to accurately measure the average time taken to complete an MOT examination. As a result a ‘benchmark’ fee for the MOT was set in November 2006 at £50.35, increasing with inflation to £54.85, the current price on 1st April 2010. It has remained the same since then.
The fee sub-group decided to use the November 2006 ‘benchmark’ fee as a starting point, and apply ‘car maintenance/repair sector’ specific inflation rates published by the Office for National Statistics to forward project an equivalent benchmark fee to the end of December 2012. This would be a minimum fee as many new ‘Reasons for Refusal’ have been added to the MOT since then. By then estimating future inflation to April 2014, when the next fee change would apply, a specific minimum claim for an increase in the fee for 2014 was put to the DfT.
A revised ‘process’
A problem for garages over the years has been the fact that any fee revision accounting for inflation, has already been out of date by the time it took effect. In terms of getting ‘correct’ fee, MOT Testing Stations have always been ‘behind the curve’ as it were when it came to the value being eroded by inflation.
This issue was pointed out to the DfT officials by the fee sub-group who suggested that for any inflation increases there should be an annual multiplier based on that ‘sector specific’ inflation calculation that should take effect automatically. Also, that any issues concerning increased costs to MOT garages resulting from changes to the MOT Scheme triggered by either VOSA or the DfT, should also be factored in. For example, the need for VTSs to now source paper supplies for the printer, or – when the next MOT contract ‘kicks-in’ the need for MOT garages to supply both the computer and the internet connection.
Improving road safety and MOT quality
The third factor ‘worked up’ by the sub-group was to use the MOT fee innovatively in the longer term future to improve the quality of vehicles being used on the roads (and hence road safety), by setting a fixed fee for a re-Test, and fixing the original ‘first time’ MOT fee. This would have the effect of penalising motorists who do not maintain their vehicles in roadworthy condition – Britain’s 40%+ MOT failure rate is greater than European countries with two yearly MOTs.
The sub-group also recommended that to reduce the relatively high level of MOT errors by Testers, there should be more training, for Testers, and that to fund that a training ‘levy’ should be imposed on every MOT Test.