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DVLA website lets visitors check on neighbours benefits

A new vehicle check service on the DVLA website allows visitors to find out whether their neighbours are receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) or either rate of the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).  The system is likely to be in breach of data protection laws and will be of enormous concern to many disabled claimants.

Unhappy member
The issue was brought to our attention yesterday by a very unhappy member who emailed us to say:

“My neighbour was able to tell me that I was on the higher rate of disability living allowance.

“She found out that people on the higher rate of disability living allowance and other similar high rate benefits get free road tax.

“The DVLA vehicle check system has been revamped and is now displaying taxation class as DISABLED on every vehicle where the registered taxation class is disabled.

“ It never used to be like this it was just blank .

“Anyone can put your car registration number into the system and do a vehicle check just like my neighbour did and find out you are on benefits and what type as a result of the taxation class DISABLED being on display

“What is the purpose of this system being open to the public to do a vehicle check on any vehicle they want?

“It’s a system of no use to anyone other than malicious people intent on causing problems for people on benefits”

Our member asked us to notify disabled people of the issue and lobby to have the data removed from the DVLA website.

We did our own check on cars in the street outside using the DVLA website and were indeed able to discover that the owner of one vehicle has a disabled tax disc and is therefore in receipt of benefits, as the screenshot below taken from the DVLA website shows.small tax details

Exemption grounds
Exemption from vehicle tax on the grounds of disability is only available for people on Higher Rate DLA Mobility Component, War Pensioners Mobility Supplement, Enhanced Mobility PIP (100% exemption) or Standard Mobility PIP (50% exemption).

The vehicle doesn’t have to belong to the disabled person, but it must be only used for their benefit. The vehicle's registered keeper can be the disabled person or someone else who uses the vehicle only for the disabled person’s needs.

At present the tax disc displayed on a car in these circumstances will show a cost of £0.00. But there are other grounds, apart from disability, for getting exemption from vehicle tax.

In addition, where a disabled person keeps their car on a private drive or in a garage, neighbours will not be able to see the details on the tax disc.

Tax discs to disappear
More importantly, from 1 October of this year you will no longer need to display a tax disc on your vehicle at all.

In addition, when you sell a car from October 2014 the tax cannot be passed onto the new owner. Instead, the previous owner will get a refund and the new owner will have to tax the car themselves.

There seems, therefore, no obvious reason for information about the tax status of a vehicle to be displayed online.

Data protection
The issue here appears to be one of data protection.

The information that DVLA are making available is not about the vehicle itself. Instead they are publishing personal information about the benefits received by the individual who currently owns the car or for whom the car is solely used.

We spoke to a staff member at the DVLA press office yesterday evening and asked them if they were aware that they were making this information available and if they would suspend the look-up service as a matter of urgency, as it appears to be in breach of data protection laws.

We have yet to receive any response.

Readers who are concerned that their personal data is being made available in this way may want to contact DVLA and the information commissioner’s office and insist that it is removed immediately.

Update:  we have now received a response from DVLA.

Comments  

#23 Jim Allison 2014-07-16 16:23
Quoting Pateo:
What, please is "HRM of DLA" ?


Please note for future reference this is for comments on benefits related news. Queries about benefits must be posted on the Forum.

Details of current benefits rates can be found in the Forum Spotlights : http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/help-for-claimants/forum-faq/general-faq#Gen30

However, FYI the DLA HRM component is currently £56.75 per week which you could have easily found using Google or other search engine.
-1 #22 Pateo 2014-07-16 13:21
What, please is "HRM of DLA" ?
#21 Margaret 2014-07-16 11:55
I guess, in terms of the parking issue DVLA raise, it refers to things like the scheme detailed here: http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk/article/4717/Blue-badge-parking-in-council-car-parks
But the whole thing is still pretty rubbish
+3 #20 Robert Adam 2014-07-07 18:43
Quoting algieuk:
Quote:
Surely "taxed" is enough information for parking purposes? Blue badge usually does the rest.

Unfortunately number plate identification cameras don't see blue badges.
This is what happens when well paid people produce ill thought out systems that dont work for everyone regardless of disability or able bodied . Whatever is introduced should be to suit all without discrimination or breaching data protection . I know a person who is on full rate DLA and she has Aids through no fault of her own a serving Policewoman who was stabbed with an infected needle and another has mental health issues . Some have MS . Im sure although they dont look disabled they are entitled to there privacy and neighbours not knowing they are terminal ill . There is a fine line between dvla and government discrimination and privacy .
+3 #19 Robert Adam 2014-07-07 18:38
Quoting algieuk:
There is one valid reason, particularly for those living in rural areas, and especially when the new taxation system comes into force. I purchased a vehicle in the disabled class, and found I could not tax it until I had taken the V5 to a DVLA office some 70 miles away and applied for change of use. The only alternative would have been to have applied for change of use by post, and kept the vehicle off the roard until the change had taken place.


You can now change the taxation class at any post office during post office hours . This was changed recently after the closure of many DVLA Offices throughout UK .
#18 algieuk 2014-07-07 06:44
Quote:
Surely "taxed" is enough information for parking purposes? Blue badge usually does the rest.
Unfortunately number plate identification cameras don't see blue badges.
#17 algieuk 2014-07-07 06:38
There is one valid reason, particularly for those living in rural areas, and especially when the new taxation system comes into force. I purchased a vehicle in the disabled class, and found I could not tax it until I had taken the V5 to a DVLA office some 70 miles away and applied for change of use. The only alternative would have been to have applied for change of use by post, and kept the vehicle off the roard until the change had taken place.
+1 #16 Yve 2014-07-05 17:46
Surely "taxed" is enough information for parking purposes? Blue badge usually does the rest.
#15 Gareth 2014-07-05 12:53
Like Jim did I checked my car and nothing was mentioned about the Tax Class just Vehicle Status which just said 'Licence Not Due'.
+1 #14 Jim Allison 2014-07-04 19:05
Quoting Robert Adam:
Quoting Jim Allison:
Whilst I agree that in my opinion this breaks the Data Protection Act 1998, I reiterate it's easy for a neighbour etc to know you're on HRM of DLA or enhanced PIP mobility component without using the DVLA facility, as currently it shows Disabled and £Nil on your tax disc.

THE TAX DISC WILL BE NO MRE FROM 1ST OCTOBER 2014 .
We wont display tax discs instead we can publicly check if a vehicle is paying tax using this new system the dvla has released revealing our private data .


Yes, I'm aware of that. See comment #2 in this thread. As I said, the ICO is investigating the issue following numerous complaints.
+4 #13 Robert Adam 2014-07-04 18:25
DVLA REPLIED TODAY
Dear Mr Adam

Thank you for your email received on 4/7/14. Your email reference number is .
"The word ‘disabled’ is currently displayed on the vehicle tax disc. This provides customers with a means of demonstrating entitlement to certain concessions such as parking in disabled areas and exemption from certain tolls and charges etc.
With the tax disc being abolished on 1 October 2014 it is important for local authorities and car park operators to identify disabled drivers who are entitled to these concessions, as such our system now enables the taxation class of a vehicle to be identified, just like the tax disc displayed on the vehicle does now."
I trust this clarifies matters.

This a is pathetic excuse
We are disabled not stupid.
We get issued with Blue Badges we pay for from our local Councils up and down the UK for parking .
My disabled tax disc nor yours does not entitle me or you to free parking and ive had to pay tickets even after appeal for failure to display a Blue Badge when ive forgot to display or its blown off window . DO NOT FALL FOR THIS EXCUSE BY DVLA PUT YOUR BADGE ON AT ALL TIMES . These tickets were issued in a private car park another by the Police and another by a local Council Warden .
This is nothing but a lame cop out by the DVLA For breaching our data protection and discriminating against disabled . The word DISABLED is about the registered keeper not the vehicle as the tax costs are still paid and the taxation class remains the same internally .
The taxation class of the car doesnt change as its paid in full by central governent . They put DISABLED on the taxation class to identify we are exempt .
This information ha to be publicly displayed for what reason ?
What use is this website ?
Its there for anyone to check on any vehicle but why ?
To report untaxed cars ? .
#12 Robert Adam 2014-07-04 15:50
Quoting Jim Allison:
Whilst I agree that in my opinion this breaks the Data Protection Act 1998, I reiterate it's easy for a neighbour etc to know you're on HRM of DLA or enhanced PIP mobility component without using the DVLA facility, as currently it shows Disabled and £Nil on your tax disc.

THE TAX DISC WILL BE NO MRE FROM 1ST OCTOBER 2014 .
We wont display tax discs instead we can publicly check if a vehicle is paying tax using this new system the dvla has released revealing our private data .
+2 #11 Robert Adam 2014-07-04 15:47
Have to isagree with Rubyred , there are malicious gits out there who resent people getting benefits who are 100% entitled to them . If someone is accused of fraudulantly obtaining dla they are immediately pulled in for the new P I P Assesment . This DVLA system stating taxation class DISABLED is not information about the vehicle ! . Its information about the registered keeper being disabled and entitled to free road tax . The taxation class doesnt change the costs are the same ncurred by the government under the exemption . This is a breach of data protection . The information that we are Disabled is confidential and the benefits we are paid is confidential all data protected yet this system tells the world and there aunty the registered keeper is disabled ? . Something far wrong here and i have complained to both dvla and the information commisioners . If enough people do this then action will be taken . Why is there even a system open to the public where you can check any vehicle by simply submitting a registration number and vehicle make ? , surely the best course would be that you can only check n your own vehicle with a unique code ? . Why anyone would want to check anyones vehicle data other than there own is beyond me but we live in a world where systems are designed and protected simply because there operating for the public to report people for untaxed vehicles and or if they fancy upsetting there disabled neighbours the nosey noras and vindictive idiots of the world simply make false allegations of benefit fraud since they now know your on benefits thanks to dvla .
#10 Jim Allison 2014-07-04 00:50
Whilst I agree that in my opinion this breaks the Data Protection Act 1998, I reiterate it's easy for a neighbour etc to know you're on HRM of DLA or enhanced PIP mobility component without using the DVLA facility, as currently it shows Disabled and £Nil on your tax disc.
-2 #9 Rubyred 2014-07-03 17:16
I agree it is a breach of the Data Protection Act, Ive checked mine and it doesnt actually give any other details apart from Disabled Taxation, this isnt something anyone with any common sense cannot work out.

It is only a problem if the person who is claiming the benefit isnt actually entitled to it. There must be a huge amount of lists and registers with different departments that gives personal details if people know where to look, the busy bodies of the world will always have a desire to cause trouble for you if they want to.
These are the sad people who have nothing better to do.
+3 #8 lcdemon 2014-07-03 16:13
Just had a reply from my MP!!

'Thank you for your email..
.... happy to write to the responsible minister to raise this issue. If you can confirm that you are ok for him to do so, we can get that letter out first thing on Monday.'

I await with interest!
+5 #7 angela 2014-07-03 15:34
Just been intouch with DVLA and they said it has always been like this I don't think this is right and leaves you open to all kinds of abuse
+3 #6 lcdemon 2014-07-03 14:25
I've been in the site again and taken a screen shot, so can I prove it to my MP....if he shows any interest!..beca use if they have started changing it ....
+4 #5 lmj63 2014-07-03 14:20
This is outrageous I have just checked our vehicle and sure enough bold as brass DISABLED
Quite right one site has it on the other doesn't which makes a mockery of the statement by DVLA that it has always been this way!!
#4 lcdemon 2014-07-03 14:09
I didn't go via gov.UK..went straight to dvlc site!!

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