Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, has withdrawn plans to change MOTs from the current timings of the first MOT at three years and then annually thereafter, to four years and then bi-annually. This is A Good Thing.
The proposed reform was part of a Governmentwide drive to sweep away red tape in what was described as a “bonfire of regulations” aimed at stimulating business and economic growth.
I have no idea how reducing the amount of MOTs performed every year could be described as ‘reducing red tape’ to enable businesses to grow.
Obviously to perform this function on behalf of the government some requirements have to be met, somewhere secure to store the certificates, like the company safe, properly trained mechanics to perform the MOT itself and a bay with specific equipment required to carry out the MOT. The equipment can be fitted to an existing bay in the workshop that already has a vehicle lift or pit, and is something a good workshop will already have, and with proper maintenance will last for years. The mechanic with the paperwork to carry out MOTs does not get paid that much more than a mechanic without. The only real cost would be to send a mechanic a workshop already employs off to get his certificate. There really isn’t much ‘red tape’ at all.
In all my years of working professionally in vehicle workshops, not once has one been inspected by the ministry. Once the initial inspection has been done to grant the licence to carry out MOTs, garages are pretty much left to their own devices.
The only thing extending the period between MOTs would do is reduce the revenue from them, in terms of the actual MOT itself and also in the repair work that a failed MOT throws up, and that can’t really be considered helping businesses, can it?
The bigger issue though, is in vehicle safety. The MOT is an annual check to make sure the vehicle is roadworthy. For many people the MOT is the only time a car gets more than just the depth of tyre treads looked at.
Supporters of the change argued that cars were better built and more reliable than they were.
Cars may be better built and more reliable, but without proper maintenance, even a modern car can be dangerous. The cost of an MOT once a year, just under £60, is not a massive burden to a motorist and the twelve months period in between is a good time period. The test also has ‘advisory’ notices, not just pass or fail tick boxes. A ball joint is worn or some rust in the wrong place is getting serious but not serious enough to fail. This gets flagged to the owner as needing attention. The annual test puts a bit (just a bit) of impetus on the owner to get it fixed. A bi-annual test would reduce this even further.
In addition ministers were keen to be seen to be driver friendly by easing the financial burden at a time of soaring fuel prices.
Getting rid of a £60 cost once a year does nothing, except reduce the income of MOT test stations and increase the risk to everyone else from dangerous vehicles.
If ministers want to be seen to be doing something for the driver, then reducing the tax burden of fuel would be a good start, and not just not increasing the tax on it. A good example of getting rid of ‘red tape’ to the benefit of industry and customers are the new rules on block exemption…
The new rules introduce a 30% market share threshold above which agreements between car manufacturers and authorised repairers will no longer be block exempted, aligning the rules with the general framework (Vertical restraints block exemption Regulation 330/2010 adopted on 20 April, see IP/10/445 and MEMO/10/138). This will make it easier for the Commission to tackle possible abuses to the detriment of consumers, such as the refusal to grant independent repairers access to technical information. It will increase competition between authorised and independent repairers.
The new rules will strengthen repairers’ access to alternative spare parts which can represent a big share of the repair bills.
Car manufacturers will no longer be able to make the warranty conditional on having the oil changed or other car services only in authorised garages. Of course, manufacturers may request repairs covered by the warranty – and paid for by the manufacturer – be carried out within the authorised network.
More of this would be good, please.