Online snoopers threaten disabled drivers

Written By: David Hencke
Published: July 12, 2014 Last modified: October 25, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people claiming higher-level benefits will be traceable on line by their car registration under a new system just started by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority.

The system which can be accessed by members of the public – started before car tax discs are abolished this October – has already led to complaints that neighbours have started snooping on them by putting in their car registration details into a new vehicle check site to find out if they pay car tax and get higher benefits.

Under the previous system, the DVLA left blank the fact they paid no car tax and were disabled.

Under the new system, people can find out on line that they pay no car tax, which is only available to people claiming higher levels of benefit. This is through mobility benefit included in the Disability Living Allowance or the new personal Independence payment system, and for war pensioners who have mobility supplements. The site also says whether they are disabled or not.

The changes highlighted on a professionally run benefits and advice website http://www.benefitsandwork.

co.uk/ have provoked a storm of protest from disabled people who see it as a breach of privacy and revealing confidential information.

The website says: “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.”

One disabled person, Robert Adam commented: “There are malicious gits out there who resent people getting benefits who are 100 per cent entitled to them. If someone is accused of fraudulently obtaining the Disability Living Allowance, they are immediately pulled in for the new PIP assessment. This DVLA system stating “Taxation class disabled” is not information about the vehicle. It is information about the registered keeper being disabled and entitled to free road tax.”

The DVLA confirmed that they had introduced the new system which they said was tied up with the abolition of car tax discs from October.

A spokesman said: “Originally, the information that the person paid no tax was on the tax disc, but when the disc is abolished it won’t be.

“We are introducing the new system to protect people so when a car is parked without a ticket and a parking enforcement company checks it out on their site they will see the person is disabled and does not pay tax.”

Asked whether this was necessary because of the blue badge scheme which identified disabled people, the spokesman said not all disabled people had a blue badge.

He denied that it would lead to people identifying how much benefit they paid.

About David Hencke

David Hencke is Tribune's Westminster Correspondent