DVLA – award winning direct debit service

Target provides DVLA with award winning Direct Debit service for Vehicle Excise Duty payments. In just eighteen weeks, Target Group designed and implemented a solution that enables motorists to pay for their Vehicle Excise Duty by Direct Debit.

Seven years on, the service has been used by more than 25 million motorists and has processed over 83 million Direct Debit mandates.

The Challenge

The DVLA needed to introduce a new reliable and resilient Direct Debit payment channel for its customers to pay for Vehicle Excise Duty, and it needed to be ready in just 18 weeks to meet a government commitment.

The Solution

Target created a secure, robust, reliable and resilient online service to support the setup of Direct Debits by customers, via a third-party over-the-counter service provider, and the provision of a Contact Centre solution for use by DVLA staff.

The service is fully integrated and compliant with BACS, including automated registration and the management of Direct Debit mandates. The service also includes a comprehensive and accurate financial reconciliation service, which is independently audited in line with the ISAE 3000 and the ISAE 3402 frameworks.

The Results

  • 24x7x365 service availability
  • Very high levels of customer satisfaction
  • Collected and reconciled over £11billion in revenue
  • An average of 1.2m Direct Debit mandates successfully set up each month

The service has been reliable as well as popular. The ability to pay Vehicle Excise Duty by Direct Debit has been an important element of the DVLA’s ongoing digital strategy and has received great feedback.

In 2020, Target secured a contract extension in order to continue to provide the service for another two years.

Simple, quick and efficient, the system has become recognised as exemplary amongst public sector web services and has helped position the DVLA as pioneers of government digital transformation.

In the Autumn statement of 2013, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the introduction of a new option to pay Vehicle Excise Duty by Direct Debit.

Target spent the first few weeks gathering the full requirements, including the design of the main public-facing web pages. It also included a web service for the third-party over-the-counter service provider, to enable Direct Debits to be set up at the counter, and a contact centre system so that the DVLA contact centre agents could support customers with any queries.

Behind the scenes, the Target solution had to:

  • Manage the set-up of each Direct Debit mandate in line with strict regulations
  • Manage the interface with BACS and banking systems
  • Provide a complete payment schedule, all in a matter of seconds, to maintain the high usability standards the DVLA had set
  • Create a system that seamlessly integrated with GOV.uk for great customer experience
  • To be bilingual, working in English and Welsh

DVLA and Target Group stakeholders worked collaboratively ensuring the service launched as planned. The requirements were formally agreed by the DVLA in early July; two weeks later, the prototype solution was approved.

The next few weeks saw robust testing of both the customer experience and back-office processing system, ensuring it could operate at the speed and scale required. At the same time, Target trained the contact centre agents on the new solution and provided guidance for the third-party over-the-counter service provider staff.

Just 18 weeks after Target was brought in, the solution went live, on schedule. It had been heavily publicised and was promptly met by huge demand. The Direct Debit service worked smoothly from day one – and has continued to do so ever since. The initial contract stipulated 99.5% uptime; month on month, Target has delivered on this and more.

The reliability of the solution, added to its simplicity from the user perspective, has meant Direct Debit has become the preferred payment method for over 25 million motorists. Customers can choose between monthly, six-monthly or annual payments.

Savings and Satisfaction

As well as the benefits to customers, the service has also helped the DVLA meet other strategic aims, such as increasing digital take-up. Target has continued to work closely with the DVLA to optimise the service.

Target successfully bid via G-Cloud to continue as the DVLA’s Direct Debit strategic supplier in 2016 and 2018 and achieved a contract extension for a further two years in 2020.

The combination of innovation and service helped the solution win Best Online Payments Solution (Consumer) at the 2016 Payments Awards – a great industry recognition for a swift, straightforward and successful service.