A government bid to resolve the HGV driver crisis has been heavily criticised by the haulage industry.
The government proposals include streamlining the HGV licence application for drivers, increasing the number of HGV driving tests and helping to reduce the cost of HGV driver training.
The government says it also wants to help improve drivers’ working conditions.
However, among the critics is the Road Haulage Association (RHA) who say the proposals will only bear fruit for the industry ‘in a year’s time’.
They say that the need for action from the government is ‘immediate’.
Create more parking spaces for HGV drivers
Among the other proposals from the government is to create more parking spaces for HGV drivers and boost the standards of the country’s lorry parks to encourage driver retention.
In an open letter published on social media, several ministers wrote: “The driver shortage is well documented and its impacts on the wider economy are becoming more evident.
“We know the challenges are serious and whilst it is for the industry to lead, we are here to help. We have been urgently working across Government and with you on a package of measures to support recruitment and retention within the industry.”
However, there was no mention of bowing to the RHA’s demand for employers to be given temporary permission to recruit drivers from the EU.
Safe and secure parking facilities
Logistics UK says the plans will not deliver critical promises that have been made to the haulage industry over the past three years, including the boosting of safe and secure parking facilities.
Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, said: “The plans revealed by the government only go part of the way to addressing the crucial problem areas that the industry has been talking with the government about for years.
“After all of the incredibly hard work to keep the country stocked with all that it needed throughout the pandemic, it is dispiriting to see that the safety and security of our workforce in the course of doing their jobs is still not being prioritised.”
She added that it was good to see that focus is now being placed on increasing HGV driver testing with the DVSA which is currently the biggest blockage to new HGV drivers joining the workforce.
However, she highlights that the government is offering no workable timetable, and otherwise ‘this is a statement of intent’.
The HGV driver crisis
The RHA says the HGV driver crisis is now so great that the government must bring immediate short-term measures in so they can enable the industry to work and target longer-term fixes.
The RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “This is a step in the right direction long-term, but it doesn’t address the critical short-term issues we’re facing.
“The problem is immediate, and we need to have access to drivers from overseas on short-term visas. The idea to simplify training and speed up testing is welcome; along with encouraging recruitment it will only improve things in a year or two’s time.”
The RHA says that the HGV driver shortage in the UK is still standing at 100,000 and they are calling on ministers to put HGV driver jobs on the Home Office’s ‘Shortage Occupation List’ to recruit drivers from the European Union.