UK haulage industry asks PM to tackle driver shortage

UK haulage industry asks PM to tackle driver shortage

In a letter organised by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), addressed to the Prime Minister, businesses and trade bodies said that the current shortage of HGV drivers “must be addressed urgently.”

The group said that short-term solutions are needed while the industry takes time to invest in and train a domestic workforce.

The letter said that members of the industry are aware that relying on international drivers is not a long-term solution. It continued: “As an industry, we are committed to improving pay and conditions for our drivers. We want to make it clear: we do not resist this change, we support it. That is why the RHA has worked tirelessly for the last four years to establish suitable apprenticeships for the sector.”

Prior to the pandemic, the group estimates that the industry had a driver shortage in excess of 60,000 which, over the last 18 months, has increased to an estimated 100,000.

According to the letter, the shortages have been caused by a multitude of factors including:

  • the loss of over a year of driver training and testing causing a significant and growing backlog
  • the departure of a significant number of EU drivers
  • the increased pressures brought on by Covid-19
  • limited apprenticeship opportunities for lorry drivers
  • an ageing workforce.

The signatories of the letter said that, while they were grateful for the government’s acknowledgement of the shortage, the solutions proposed to date including the 3-month-visa “simply do not go far enough to tackle the crisis and protect the UK economy in the months ahead.”

“Act urgently and decisively”

The letter said: “It is our collective view that there has never been a more challenging time for the UK haulage industry. We urge you to act urgently and decisively or risk further damage to not only our businesses and livelihoods, but the UK’s integrated and finely balanced supply chains.

“Put simply, we will not be able to build back better and recover from the pandemic without a thriving haulage industry and we urge you to take the necessary action to ensure that we can continue to play our essential role underpinning the UK economy, both now and in the future.”

The PM can “protect the UK economy” by taking these actions:

  • Adding HGV drivers to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List for a period of at least 12 months whilst the industry trains a domestic workforce
  • Extending the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) and introducing a ‘one year for one module’ CPC for UK drivers, meaning that a driver can extend or renew a UK Driver CPC entitlement for one year if they undertake one Driver CPC training module without having to spend a week retraining to renew it. The group claimed that this would enable experienced and retired drivers to immediately return to driving. For UK drivers (no longer bound by EU regulations), Driver CPC should be suspended for three months
  • Convening an HGV driver taskforce that would see the haulage industry and government work together to tackle issues such as infrastructure investment to improve conditions on motorway networks (including working with local authorities to invest in lorry parking and truck stops) and promoting haulage as a valued career. The letter said that this should include discussions on reforming the apprenticeship levy to enable businesses to access alternative courses that can be approved by the Transport and Logistics Trailblazer Group.

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