DVLA Website Lets Visitors Check On Neighbours Benefits

Many thanks to Benefits And Work.
for this article.


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.

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10 Responses to DVLA Website Lets Visitors Check On Neighbours Benefits

  1. Jay says:

    The benefits system is presently widely open to abuse and this has to be stopped…if you’re not abusing the Welfare State, apart from the data protection issue, I can’t really understand the problem with this.


  2. Methusalada says:

    Sadly life is becoming more like a Nazi style regime each week ! When I am asked by someone how or why do you have a blue badge. I have two responses that I often use (a) because of my sex change operation or b) I bought it in Tesco’s or I printed it from the Internet. I love to see the look on their face!
    These type never write to their local newspaper about their MP fiddling their expenses though!
    But I have in the past complained about the blue badge scheme which was a problem in London where the going rate for a stolen Blue Badge was over a £1,000 & highly sort after a few years ago. However they started issuing the new style of Blue Badges over a year ago which cannot be so easily forged.


  3. Methusalada says:

    I’m having PC internet problems Wobbly, nothing to do with you or yours ! Normal services may be resumed when she who must be obeyed answers my call ! Have a great weekend. On with motley .


  4. This is very offensive. So everyone with a disability is fair game for being snooped on by anybody. On the one hand it demeans the disabled (which will surely include elderly ?), undermines privacy and the right to dignity for an easily identifiable group of (vulnerable) people. In the process diminishes their collective status and normalises spying activities – and the kind of people attracted to policing their neighbours are exactly the kind of people who should not be encouraged in this behaviour. Agree with above comment – has a nasty Nazi flavour about it. (also having internet problems- what a coincidence).


  5. @prayerwarriorpsychicnot that’s the first thing I thought when I saw the original article. I like that phrase of yours… “normalises spying activities”


  6. Methusalada says:

    Had to clean up on my PC last night. Once more into the communications breach & fray! As a 73 yr old registered disabled person I am still waiting to get my driving licence returned to me. My understanding of the law is that I can continue to drive until I hear from the DVLA. They sent me a letter by post to which I replied to on the Internet . I do love this modern technology it’s so inclusive for the disabled , the elderly & those who must obey to remain ignorant and go under without their own personal PC. Most have to rely on receiving interpretations to their concerns by a well meaning non disabled person.

    On a different note I finally received today a reply from my MP David Jones to my concerns about the future of the ILF . It included a 2 page response from Minister Iain Duncan Smith to my initial complaint . As Minister of State for Disabled People it basically states that my allegations are incorrect and I have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Courts judgement. It then goes onto advising myself as to where I can get further information on the matter on the GOV.UK website. (some of which worked & others it did not )
    It states that the governance of the ILF funding in England would be transferred to local authorities in England.
    How Wales & Scotland shall use its own funding is a matter those devolved administrations to decide upon. (I am aware that Scotland’s Parliament has already started planning this now .
    What the devil Wales Government is up to on ILF I do not know or understand, even though I am a member of Disability Wales which is funded by the Welsh Government)
    I think I am coming the end of my grumpy moans now as to no bugger appears to know what their doing, except Scotland & the Black Triangle.
    One last thing Wobbly should you desire to have a copy of my Ministerial communications for your friends at The Guardian I would be most willing to share any & all of my personal thoughts and communications .
    I shall also be sharing such matters at two separate Unite meetings in July one at Bangor ,
    the other at Unite the Union, 64 Chester Street, Flint.CH6 5DH Flint on the Unite Community Development in Wales. To attend & join contact the Wales Unite Community Coordinator:- Joanne Galazka Tel: 07718668512 or by Email: joanne.galazka@unitetheunion.org
    I am hoping that they are prepared to listen to a grumpy old disabled retired member for 2 minutes.

    On with the motley ! Tatty bye for now .WWW


    • My you have been busy! Glad your PC is feeling better. I haven’t seen anything about what the Welsh Assembly Government are doing with ILF … time to write a letter to the Health Minister about that I think.
      Keep up the good work … as the saying goes, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the size of the dog!


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