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 DfT was interested in implementing a digital payment collection method via an easily accessible, multilingual system, fulfilling GDS guidelines.
NEC won a five-year contract to design, build and run the new payment system. To make it cost effective, we also 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.
Our work with the DfT involves establishing user needs to continuously improve the product, incorporating changes while keeping in line with new policy and legislation without any disruption to the end user.
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.
We adopted an ‘agile’ project management approach to successfully deliver the outcomes while iterating and evaluating continuously to respond to change quickly.
After consulting with drivers, hauliers, booking agents and enforcement agencies, we 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, increasing visual understanding. Secondly, they provide content in six languages for easy access and comprehension. Finally, a multi-lingual contact centre was set up to 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%.
Find out more about our digital services.