Check your neighbor's benefits using the DVLA website.
The DVLA website now provides a new service that allows visitors to determine whether or not their neighbors are receiving the higher rate of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) or one of the mobility components of personal independence payment (PIP). However, this system infringes on data protection laws, as individuals may be able to collect sensitive personal information about disabled claimants.
A member who was aware of the issue informed us of her concerns. She became aware of her status as a higher-rate mobility component recipient when her neighbour informed her that she was eligible for free road tax. The DVLA vehicle check system displays a vehicle's taxation class as DISABLED for any vehicle that has a registered classification of disabled. This never used to be the case; the field was previously blank. Anyone can enter a car registration number into the system and find out whether an owner receives benefits due to the taxation class of a DISABLED vehicle.
The system has no purpose other than to allow malicious individuals to cause harm to disabled people. Therefore, we urge affected individuals to demand removal of this data from the DVLA website.
Using the DVLA website, we checked a few cars outside. The screenshot below shows that a vehicle parked nearby has a disabled tax disc, thus indicating that the owner received benefits.
Exemption from vehicle tax is only accessible to people receiving various levels of mobility payment, including Higher Rate DLA Mobility Component, War Pensioners Mobility Supplement, Enhanced Mobility PIP (100% exemption), or Standard Mobility PIP (50% exemption). The vehicle doesn't have to belong to the disabled person, but it must be exclusively for their benefit. The disabled person or someone else, who uses the car exclusively to address the disabled person's needs, can be the registered keeper of the vehicle.
If a disabled person parks their car on a private driveway or in a garage, neighbors will not be able to see the information displayed on their tax disc.
From 1st October this year, the tax disc will no longer be necessary, and one cannot pass on tax to the purchaser of a car from October 2014. Instead, the previous owner will obtain reimbursement, and the new owner will have to pay tax on the vehicle themselves. Therefore, it is unclear why information about the taxation status of a vehicle needs to be broadcasted online.
The problem is that DVLA is providing personal information about the benefits received by the owner of the car or a person who solely drives the car. This might violate data protection laws. We contacted the DVLA press office last night, and we asked if they were aware of this information availability and whether or not they would discontinue this service as it violated data protection laws. As of publication, the DVLA has not responded to our request.
If readers are concerned that their personal data is being mishandled, we recommend that you contact the DVLA and the information commissioner’s office and insist that they remove personal information immediately.
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