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Trucking Industry UK

PM urged to act on lorry driver shortage or face Christmas crisis

The government has revealed its plans to tackle the HGV driver crisis by recruiting 5,000 lorry drivers from Europe.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being urged by the haulage industry to act now to resolve a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers or face a Christmas crisis.

The bosses of multiple businesses and trade bodies in the food and trucking industries have written to the Prime Minister saying that not enough is being done to resolve the issue.

They are urging him to personally intervene.

They say that the measures unveiled by the government to plug the lorry driver shortage gaps do not ‘go far enough to tackle the crisis’ and will not protect the country’s economy in the coming months.

‘This will only get worse’

They add: “Without further action, this will only get worse, particularly as we begin the countdown to Christmas.”

The lorry driver shortage in the UK has already been blamed for interrupting the supply chain to supermarkets and leading to last month’s petrol shortages.

And now employers are warning there could be major disruption leading up to the festivities including bins not being collected.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) coordinated the letter and they’ve called for three immediate measures for the Prime Minister to carry out.

Add HGV drivers to their ‘shortage occupations list’

Firstly, they say that the government should add HGV drivers to their ‘shortage occupations list’ to make it easier for skilled drivers to obtain visas.

They also want to reform and extend drivers’ qualifications known as the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to retired and experienced drivers to return to work immediately.

The third demand is for the setting up of a task force for the government and haulage industry to collaborate to address the HGV driver shortage.

The RHA says that the shortage of lorry drivers has risen from 60,000 before the Covid-19 pandemic began, to 100,000 today.

They say that along with the pandemic being a major factor, another issue was EU nationals returning home.

Need to improve conditions and pay

Other issues include an ageing workforce and limited apprenticeships – though the letter states the haulage industry is aware that they need to improve conditions and pay.

However, they say the government needs to do more in offering temporary visas to drivers from the European Union and that relying on them is ‘not a long-term solution’.

The letter also states: “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.”

A spokesman for the government said: “This is a global problem and we have been working closely with industry for months to understand how we can boost recruitment. However, we also want to see long-term solutions delivered by employers through improved testing and hiring, with better pay

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