The government has lifted the rules on foreign lorry drivers and how many deliveries and drop-offs they can make while in the UK.
The rules are being relaxed to help tackle the country’s supply chain issues in the run-up to Christmas.
These are known as the cabotage rules and cover how many jobs a lorry driver can make while in a foreign country.
The government says that under their plan, a driver will be able to make unlimited collections or deliveries within 14 days while in the country.
Lorry driver from the EU
Currently, a lorry driver from the EU is restricted to making two drop-offs or pick-ups every week.
The government is hoping that the new changes will be brought in by December and comes after retailers began warning shoppers they could be facing a shortage of festive items, including toys, and they are now urging shoppers to buy their Christmas gifts early.
The move to relax deliveries comes after an announcement made last month for up to 5,000 temporary visas by the government for overseas HGV drivers.
So far, only a fraction of that number of visas have been issued.
Relaxed cabotage rules
But now under the relaxed cabotage rules, a foreign lorry driver that comes into the UK with goods can drop off and pick up items for an unlimited number of times for up to two weeks before they must return home.
There will be a one-week consultation before the changes are approved and when they are, they will be brought in towards the end of 2021 and will run for up to six months.
This could then see thousands of extra HGV deliveries being made every month to enable items and food that arrive via ports to be delivered on schedule.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “Tt’s a good idea to have some additional capacity right now. This is a quick way of doing that.”
He says this is a ‘common sense measure’ that does not require visas.
Road Haulage Association
However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) expressed its displeasure at the move to relax cabotage rules.
In a statement, they said: “The RHA is shocked and disappointed by the Government proposal to allow foreign haulage companies to undertake unlimited work in the UK in two-week blocks.
“The RHA opposes this proposal because we believe more effective measures can be taken to deal with the shortage of lorry drivers and the supply chain crisis in the UK.
“In simple terms, cabotage allows non-UK haulage companies to work in the UK while being based outside the UK. The companies and employees will pay no tax in the UK.
“This is not about drivers from outside the UK working for UK companies – this proposal outsources the whole haulage activity – tax, safety regulation, national insurance obligations are all controlled outside the UK when cabotage is unfettered in the way proposed by Government.”