For most, the internet revolution is a welcome one. It’s quick, easy and convenient. But not for everyone.
The shift of many services, including the NHS and banking, online has meant that many millions of people are being left without access. And the DVLA can now be added to the list as it will be withdrawing road tax services from the Post Office, effective from April 1, 2024.
Seventy-year-old Karen Metherell lives in Haslemere and does not own a smart-phone, have a computer or even an email account.
She fears that she is being left behind as the services she needs are increasingly difficult to access without going online. Karen’s father had Alzheimer’s and Karen refuses to get internet banking as she fears easy access to her money could become a problem if she develops the same condition.
Karen is already spending many hours on the phone and at the library, and the latest DVLA news has left her frustrated and scared.
“Having everything online is discriminating against people like me,” she said. “I am terrified of scams and being caught out, so I don’t want to get online. But where does that leave me?”
Karen is concerned that many people do not know about the DVLA's plan.
She said: “It is not just me that will be affected by this. I only heard about it because of an afternoon news report, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. More people need to know about it and someone who can should start a petition to stop it.”
There are already many petitions online campaigning to prevent the switch – but the people most affected by the change are not online to see or sign them.
A real digital divide is hitting the UK, research from Citizens Advice has revealed.
Despite a technological revolution, seven million UK households are without internet access.
In 2021, Citizens Advice found that around 2.9 million people – about one in 20 adults – do not use the internet. And around 11 million people – one in five adults – lack some of the ‘essential digital skills for life’, like using email or search engines.
A DVLA spokesperson said: “The Post Office currently provides a limited range of DVLA’s services and an extension to the current contract has been agreed until March 31, 2024.
“We want our customers to be able to access our services as quickly and as easily as possible, and the role of front office counter services will form part of the considerations of any future service offerings.”
A driver can renew their licence by post using a D1 form, and can tax their vehicle by calling 0300 1234 321.
But Karen already spends hours on automated phonelines and at library computers trying to access basic services.
She said: “It is penalising old people. Soon none of us will be able to drive because we’re not taxed. But maybe that’s the plan!”
If this online move affects you, call 01252 959580.