can you live on the cut and still own a car?
it may become more difficult in the future
If you have a motor vehicle, you are probably already aware that the DVLA have recently reinterpreted' their long-standing criteria that define the nature of an address to which a driving licence or V5C may be registered and are now insisting that this must be the actual, residential, address of the driver or keeper!
When pressed, a manager in their Casework Unit did concede that registration may be permitted at the address of a relative, friend, Doctor or 'similar?'... but only in undefined 'exceptional circumstances'.
Even if and when such circumstances are accepted (a wholly subjective process and therefore unpredictable) you may then need to provide documentary proof to support any claim of a familial or professional connection.
What is very clear, however, is that the DVLA are now explicitly prohibiting the registration of a driving licence or V5C (the vehicle 'log book') to any address that has been commercially provided.
This policy is, in our opinion, counterproductive, and negates their own stated reasons for its implementation; I quote verbatim from the DVLA's response to a letter we sent to them on the 7th October;
"The registered keeper of a vehicle needs to provide an address at which they can be easily contactable by post or in person as it helps the DVLA, the police and other enforcement agencies to contact the keeper in the event of a law infringement."
...but this is precisely why canalpost exists!
As anyone who has lived without a fixed postal address will attest, it is an act of the purest optimism to expect a brother-in-law, ex-girlfriend, work colleague or elderly parents to receive your mail... then remember to take it to the Post Office and apply the correct postage.
And what happens when a well-meaning friend or relative forgets to send you that £90 speeding fine you received two years ago and which has now risen to over £1,000? Not a far-fetched scenario, invented to illustrate the point, but is exactly what happened to Linda Hollington, the editor of CanalsOnline Magazine, just before Christmas!
Lest this article begins to sound like DVLA bashing, it really isn't.
We all share a world in which identity theft, fraud and terrorism are a constant, ever growing, threat... and we understand very well that the motive behind this policy change is to mitigate these risks.
...is to persuade the DVLA to rescind the current blanket ban and, instead, implement a mechanism by which providers could be 'approved' to supply this crucial and much needed service.
We suggest that a set of compliance standards be applied, identical to those normally reserved for Trust and Company Service Providers, on the basis that; if they meet HMRC's exacting requirements for an organisation able to set up Companies, open bank accounts and transact international finance, then they should also satisfy the DVLA.
The operating Company for canalpost already meets, and exceeds, these standards.
Our dedicated ID & Compliance team verifies the identity of every new account holder via Lexis Nexis (an HMRC approved KYC/AML provider), which includes the identification of Politically Exposed Persons.
Furthermore, although not a required process, we also carry out negative media screening on every business registration.
Staff are trained in Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, and every member of management has been certified as a 'fit and proper person' by HMRC's AML Supervision team. To further strengthen this oversight, Propost ™, our proprietary mail management software, incorporates a range of unique Risk Assessment Algorithms that constantly monitor accounts for unusual or suspicious patterns of use.
Finally, because we handle personal data, we are also registered as Data Controllers with the ICO and comply fully with the myriad rules and restrictions placed upon us by GDPR.
Achieving this level of compliance has been costly, but we have always believed that our first responsibility is to protect the privacy and security of our customers. Unfortunately, there are less diligent providers in the marketplace, the net result of which being the introduction of this restrictive address policy.
The aim of our lobbying campaign is twofold; to draw the DVLA's attention to the unfairness of applying this regulation to those who, either by choice or in response to financial imperatives, live a 'No Fixed Abode' lifestyle.
Secondly; to convince the DVLA policy makers at the Department of Transport that a virtual address and mail forwarding service supplied by a professional, properly certified and approved provider, is more secure, and meets their stated criteria far better, than allowing the informal use of Great Aunt Dorothy's address in Caister on Sea!
We now have a Member of Parliament willing to lobby actively on our behalf. A previous Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Hon. Stephen Crabb MP has the experience and contacts within Government that makes him an ideal advocate for the changes that we are suggesting.
To support our lobbying efforts, we have also set-up a digital petition which, once it reaches 10,000 'signatures' will require a formal response from Government. If we are then able to amass 100,000 signatures, there is a very good chance that the issue will be debated in the House.
PETITION HERE ONLINE SOON - WATCH THIS SPACE
... it takes less than two minutes, then please share this link with friends and let your collective voices be heard in Westminster!
some final thoughts
Please remember that this issue extends well beyond boaters, affecting an estimated 1.2 million in the UK who live a 'No Fixed Abode' lifestyle, and includes the growing number of people living fulltime in motorhomes, or static caravans.
Although the primary subject of this article is the DVLA, our overriding concern is that it may just be the thin end of an insidious wedge. Consider the implications if similarly restrictive policies are adopted by (or forced upon) banks, credit card companies, telecoms providers, insurance brokers, the DWP, NHS or HMRC... even online retailers?
At least the price of narrow boats will fall! :o/