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Staff Numbers

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why he plans to increase the number of staff as measured in staff years in his Department by 190 in 2003–04 compared with 2002–03. [114773]

[holding answer 20 May 2003]: The increase in the number of staff is mainly due to the need for specialist external recruitment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the number of staff measured in staff years in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency increased in 2002–03 by 903 compared with 2001–02. [114937]

[holding answer 20 May 2003]: The difference of 903 staff years between 2001–02 and 2002–03 reflects a change in the way that staffing figures are recorded, to include casual staff and a number of changes in DVLA operations.The main operational changes that contributed to the actual increase were:

(a) new policy initiatives such as the mandatory vehicle registration document scheme and to support London congestion charging;

(b) to safeguard delivery of the core business such as improving the accuracy of the database and the new strategic partnership to support DVLA's substantial change programme for service delivery improvements; and

(c) increased workload involving initiatives to improve customer service delivery such as the introduction of extended hours in the Agency's call centre and growth in business volumes (5.9 per cent. higher in 2002–03), offset by more efficient working practices and the increase in electronic business.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the number of staff measured in staff years in the Drug Standards Agency is planned to increase in 2003–04 by 547 compared with 2001–02. [114938]

[holding answer 20 May 2003]: Demand for driving tests has increased from some 1,481, 210 in 2001–02 to an estimated 1,635,500 in 2003–04. To meet this rising demand, and to reduce waiting times for driving tests, the Driving Standards Agency has recently recruited over 130 driving examiners and plans to recruit 330 more in the coming year. The increased levels of test demand also impact on the number of support staff, such as call centre agents, that are needed.In addition, DSA is boosting other activities in line with commitments in the Government's "Road Safety Strategy", such as delivering a national programme of "Arrive Alive" presentations to youngsters in schools and colleges. In 2003–04, some 6,000 presentations are planned, compared with some 2,700 in 2001–02.The increase in full-time equivalent staff for the Agency, shown in the Department's recently published Annual Report for 2003, reflects these higher levels of activity and changes in the way that staffing figures are recorded.