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Vehicle Tax, SORN and Vehicle Enquiry - Service Assessment

This service is designed to make re-taxing more convenient for customers, as they are able to tax from home, work or even aboard, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.  The service is compatible for use across different browsers and devices.

Department / Agency:

Date of Assessment:

Assessment stage:

Result of Assessment:
Not passed

Lead Assessor:
H. Garrett

Service Manager:
C. Williams

Digital Leader:
B. Etheridge

Assessment Report

The Vehicle Tax, SORN and Vehicle Enquiry services are seeking permission to be branded a Live Digital by Default service on the domain.

Outcome of service assessment

After completing our assessment we have concluded the vehicle tax, SORN and vehicle enquiry services should not be given approval to remove beta branding and launch on a domain as a Live Digital by Default service. The service should retain beta branding until it has passed a reassessment.

The service will not need to complete a full reassessment, but the service should be reviewed against the criteria which it has not fully passed in order to remove beta branding and launch as as a Live Digital by Default service.


The GDS assessment team were very impressed with the scale and pace of delivery since the vehicle tax service launched as a beta service on a domain in January 2014.

The team have dealt with three large changes to the scope of the service within that time, the abolition of the tax disc, adding direct debit payment options and expanding online vehicle licensing to include Northern Ireland.

The core team are working in an agile way which meant they were able to rapidly adapt and deliver these changes to the service as the scope changed.

The appropriate safety and security provisions are in place and the team have a good understanding of user needs for the services and have taken on feedback from research to iterate the beta service.

However, the assessment team felt that the service didn’t meet two points of the standard to a degree that would mean moving to Live status. The Live assessment is deliberately stretching, and is designed to ensure that a service meets all points of the standard now, and will be in a strong position to continue to do so in the future.

Point 2: Put in place a sustainable multidisciplinary team that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with decision-making responsibility.

Specifically the following aspects of point 2:

Show there are no gaps in the team or explain how they will address any gaps:

  • The team clearly explained the benefits of being co-located and how this had worked well. However, there are areas where this has not been the case and the assessment team felt that this was visible in the product. Specifically, content design, interaction design and product analyst skills aren’t currently sufficiently integrated or represented within the team. These disciplines should be fully involved in the research and development of the service, in order to iterate the service to meet user needs.

Show that the team will be sustained to continuously improve the service after it goes live:

  • It wasn’t sufficiently clear how the service will continue to be iterated and developed once it is live and the team that will be in place to deliver further iteration. The developers within the team will be shared across other projects.
  • The service team will need to be able to respond to feedback quickly. It is vital that there is a team in place to analyse large volumes of data from various sources (call centre data, analytics and email feedback) and then iterate the service, based on this, to better meet user needs.
  • If there isn’t the capacity to iterate once the service is live, it will quickly degrade.

Show that there is a separation of key roles (ie the same person is not performing multiple roles within the service):

  • There isn’t a clear separation of key roles in some areas, the lead developer is also covering front-end development, design and analytics. While it is good that real-time analytics are available to the whole team, it’s important that there is an individual with sufficient dedicated time to turn the analytics data into actionable insight.

There is at least one user researcher working regularly and frequently on the service:

  • There are no user researchers co-located or embedded within the service team. There are plans in place to meet with the customer insights team to discuss future research, but it wasn’t clear who would lead experimental design and research to iteratively improve the service.

Point 10 - Put appropriate assisted digital support in place that’s aimed towards those who genuinely need it

Although the service provides offline support for users through several channels, the team did not provide evidence of sufficient research into assisted digital users for this specific service so it was unclear whether the proposed support would meet the needs of those users.

The service must undertake research into the full range of their assisted digital users to understand their needs, including people who are unable to use or access the online service independently. They must then ensure the proposed assisted digital support meets those needs and is in line with the service standard.

Other issues and recommendations

There are design and content issues that the service team should address at the next opportunity, the assessment team will send over the specific information separately to this report.

Terms and conditions content should be present (where relevant).

The service(s) subdomain URL shouldn’t be indexed by external search engines (the start page on GOV.UK should be the start of the service).

Next Steps
The service team should follow the recommendations made in this report and see the Government Service Design Manual for further guidance. In order for the service to proceed to live and remove beta branding it will need to be reassessed against the criteria, which were not passed.

Digital by Default Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 No
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 No
11 Yes 12 Yes
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 Yes 16 Yes
17 Yes 18 Yes
19 Yes 20 Yes
21 Yes 22 Yes
23 Yes 24 Yes
25 Yes 26 Yes