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.
a driving instructor in Hastings, East Sussex, said: “‘Bots book tests faster than our pupils. Jobs are being lost because people can’t book the tests. It’s an absolute mess.”
More than 1.7m practical driving tests are typically carried out each year by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in England, Scotland and Wales, but an increase in demand, industrial action and lack of public confidence in the system has increased waiting times. A driving test booked on the government website costs £62 on weekdays and £75 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
Bots buy up available slots in what has been described by DVSA officials as a “black economy”. A provisional licence number and candidate name is required to book a test but this can be changed once the slot is sold at a profit. Some of the brokers use business accounts that are intended for instructors to book multiple slots for students.