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RSA seeks increase in NCT and driver test fees

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is seeking an increase in the fees charged to motorists for the National Car Test (NCT), the driving test and a range of other services it provides.

It has asked the Government to allow it to increase charges, or grant it additional money from exchequer resources.

According to documents released to RTÉ’s This Week programme under the Freedom of Information Act, the RSA, which has a budget of more than €90m euro annually, appealed directly to Taoiseach Simon Harris to allow it to increase charges from next year.

Among the fees it wants to increase are charges for the NCT, the issuing of driving licences, and commercial vehicle testing. It also wants to increase the fees for driving tests.

It is understood one of the options proposed to the Department of Transport by the RSA was to increase fees by 10%.

A 10% increase on the NCT would see the charge upped by €5.50 to €65.50.

A 10% increase on the NCT would see the charge upped to €65.50

For driving tests the fees would increase by €8.50 to €93.50.

Other scenarios examined lower increases.

The RSA has a budget of around €95m financed through fees charged to drivers for the services it provides.

In a briefing document sent to Mr Harris’s special advisor prior to a meeting with him in April, the RSA said there was significant pressure on its self financing model.

It said in 2023, RSA revenue was €7m lower on account of “absorbing the impact of indexation.”

This is projected to decline further by €16.8m in 2024 based on a full-year impact across the organisation’s outsourced services.

It is understood the RSA has had to pay wage increases, rent increases and make provision to pay contractors extra due to higher inflation.

In the briefing document it pointed out that fees have not been increased for 12 years.

In a direct appeal to Mr Harris, the RSA outlined its “funding ask.”

It said the current funding model is “not sustainable into the future without appropriate intervention”.

The RSA said it has had to defer work on two ministerial priorities: A review of the granting of multiple learner permits, and a review of the driving test curriculum due to “a lack of resourcing”.

“Both are large multi-annual programmes requiring committed funding and sanctioned headcount to deliver. Is there an option to ring-fence funding and resourcing for these priorities?” it asked.

Minister Jack Chambers will bring preliminary recommendations before the summer recess (file photo)

The RSA pointed out that other public services including Dublin Airport Authority (daa) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have been able to increase their fees, saying TII has increased toll fees three times in 18-months.

“Can the RSA increase fees for its services in line with inflation which have not been increased in 12 years?” it wrote.

It urged the Government to allocate money directly from the exchequer if fee increases were not sanctioned.

“Should fee increases not be an option for 2025 onwards, can exchequer allocation, in line with the impact of indexation be reconsidered to run existing services as was previously requested?” the document stated.

The RSA’s key responsibility is to promote road safety.

Read more: Rising road deaths: Why is Ireland bucking the European trend?

So far 81 people have died on Irish roads this year. That is a 9% increase on the same period last year which was the worst year on Irish roads for a decade.

In a statement, the Department of Transport said fee increases are “not currently” being considered.

It said the appropriate funding model for the RSA, including the role for exchequer subvention, is part of an ongoing review.

The department added that Minister of State Jack Chambers will bring preliminary recommendations from the Review to Government before the summer recess.

The statement added that staffing increases being sought by the RSA must be agreed with the Department of Expenditure as part of the annual budgetary process.

“This process is currently ongoing” it said.

The RSA said it is working across its education programmes, awareness activities, research programmes and its delivery of key services to save lives and prevent serious injuries.

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