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01/03/2024 - North London

An absolute mess’: learner drivers forced to buy tests on black market as companies block-book slots

Britain’s system of allocating driving tests is in disarray in many parts of the country as learner drivers are forced to travel hundreds of miles for their tests or pay unofficial brokers up to £400 to avoid the queues, reveals an Observer investigation.

The number of drivers waiting to take their practical tests climbed above 500,000 this year,

Brokers are exploiting the frantic hunt for tests by using software applications known as bots to book available slots on the government website the moment they become available – which they then sell at a hefty profit.

Driving instructors are calling for a ban on excessive profits from the reselling of tests. They say low-paid workers who need their driving licences are being unfairly penalised.

An Observer investigation found:

 Brokers, operating like ticket touts, are inviting bids from driving schools for available test slots for their students, with prices of up to £400.

 One broker with a registered business address at a terraced house in east London claims to offer better availability for fast-track slots than the government website.

 Some students in London and the home counties travel to Devon and west Wales to take their driving test rather than pay inflated prices to scalpers.