The Department for Transport needed to implement new legislation requiring HGVs to contribute to the cost of wear and tear on UK roads. This time-based levy had to apply to all HGVs over 12 tonnes.
For UK-registered HGVs, payments are made alongside the existing Vehicle Excise Duty transaction. However, for foreign HGVs a new GOV.UK service was needed to manage payments.
The Department awarded NPS a five-year contract to create and run the new payment system. To make it cost effective, NPS took on the risk of development and implementation.
In the first month alone, 170,000 levies were sold to 59 different countries, with 97% of payments made digitally.
The amount paid had to vary according to the weight, number of axles and type of vehicle. The levy must also comply with EU charging legislation and let users make advance or one-off payments.
So after consulting with drivers, hauliers, booking agents and enforcement agencies, NPS built three portals that are accessible on any device. One to cover payments, one for enforcement and one for public access. This allows anyone to check that a valid levy has been paid.
Ease of use was key. Firstly, the payment screens include strong use of images. Secondly, they provide content in six languages. Finally, a multi-lingual contact centre can offer payment assistance, if required.
The enforcement system matches levy payments with records of HGVs that arrive or leave by ferry or the Channel Tunnel. As a result, all relevant agencies (DVSA in Great Britain, DVA in Northern Ireland and the police) can deliver targeted on-the-road enforcement.
Go-live for the foreign operator payment system was 1st April 2014. In the first month alone, 170,000 levies were sold to 59 different countries. Most importantly, 97% of payments made digitally, compared to 20% for similar schemes elsewhere.
The levy generated over £46 million revenue from foreign HGVs in its first year. Compliance rates are high too, at about 95%.
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