Department for Transport: Tax disc managed solution



The Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency is a modern and highly efficient organisation providing complete, accurate and up to date information and services that fully meet the customer and stakeholder requirements.
Each year the Department:

  • Maintains over 44 million driver and 36 million vehicle records
  • Collects nearly 6 billion in Vehicle Excise Duty
  • Limits tax evasion to no more than 1%
  • Supports the police and intelligence authorities in dealing with vehicle related crime
  • Issues 10.3 million driving licences and 17.3 million vehicle registration documents
  • Answers 19.7 million phone calls

The challenge

The Vehicle Excise Duty was first introduced in 1889 and it has been a legal requirement since 1 January 1921 to display a tax disc in your vehicle. In the years since its introduction a number of tamper proof features have been added to improve security, minimise fraud and reduce counterfeit production.

On 1 February 2012 Williams Lea took over the purchasing of the discs on behalf of DVLA.

As Williams Lea started the on-boarding process and undertook the management of the tax discs it became apparent that there were a number of production issues impacting efficiency. These manifested themselves within the manufacturing process as:

  • ‘Sprocket-alignment’ issues that reduced running speeds
  • Variable stability of the product during production
  • ‘Stack-lean’ that slowed production and increased costs


Williams Lea conducted a comprehensive examination of the tax disc and reviewed its security features, paper stock and the manufacturing processes involved in its production.

Our team worked closely with the DVLA, the incumbent supplier and our wider vendor network to improve the current disc and deliver savings through working effectively within certain constraints.

It was clear that enhancements to the stability of the tax disc would increase running speeds and lower production costs. This was done using a light touch approach to maintain the security features and existing look and feel of the disc. This approach avoided a wider consultation with the enforcement authorities saving time to market and maximising cost savings generated by the solution.

Within an 8-week period, Williams Lea consulted the market and reviewed a number of alternative production methods. The new manufacturing techniques produce a tax disc which is more stable in the production environment, maintains its security features, runs faster through the DVLA machines and as a result is cheaper to manufacture.


  • Cost avoidance of £890,000 per year
  • Broadened range of potential suppliers − improving market tension − and delivering lower costs now and in the future
  • Greater product stability leading to quicker running speeds and less production time resolving issues
  • Maintained level of security features
  • Reduced number of processes to manufacture the tax disc – less to manage and removing the issues previously encountered
  • Minimal testing required thereby saving costs and improving speed to market
  • Use of leading technology to manage the production activity
  • Partnership approach − Williams Lea and DVLA working together to deliver a collaborative solution
  • Improved vendor and material knowledge – building an understanding of the tax disc and increasing the team’s ability to make informed recommendations


Very strong client relationships established through:

  • Highly skilled on-site Account Management resource
  • A fast response and more collaborative, consultative process
  • Delivering year-to-date savings against baseline of 18%
  • Access to a wide network of specialist print support
  • Legacy suppliers on-boarded to Williams Lea providing continuity of delivery on common work, at reduced cost
  • Greater understanding of the client’s needs and delivering results to match their requirements
  • Cost avoidance on the tax disc of £890,000 delivered by working together and understanding the challenges and requirements placed on DVLA
  • A product that has a greater potential supply base. This will lead to an increased market tension and improved future savings for DVLA

Why Williams Lea?

At the start of the PVP contract Williams Lea and the DfT family took the decision to locate our account team on-site at the DVLA in Swansea.
By being on-site Williams Lea have been able to deliver real added value. The availability of on-site expertise and ease of contact has improved team work and enabled an holistic view from concept to delivery, providing a conduit for change where needed.

Increased accountability of the team and inclusivity of all stakeholders, encouraged the removal of perceived departmental boundaries. This in turn delivered stronger stakeholder relationships through working collectively, side-by-side.

Being on-site means Williams Lea has a far greater understanding of the DVLA drivers and pressures. The ability to be immersed in the culture has lead to better alignment of objectives.

Williams Lea are on-hand to bring enhanced advice and help influence and bring about change. Our ability to influence at an earlier stage delivers improved savings and benefits. This in time builds greater trust in the relationship.