The HGV driver shortage: Our campaigning

The HGV driver shortage: Our campaigning

14 Jul 2021 Posted By Josh Reynolds

We’ve been drawing media attention to the UK’s ongoing HGV driver shortage, and calling on Government to take actions to tackle both the causes and effects of the shortage.

While the UK has historically needed around 65,000 more HGV drivers, a combination of factors have combined to create a perfect storm, drastically increasing the number of drivers needed to keep the UK supply chain moving.

Since the start of 20-21, more than 15,000 EU drivers have returned to work in their home countries. This was not only down changes to immigration rules after the end of the Brexit transition period, in addition, 30,000 HGV driver tests didn’t take place last year, due to social distancing guidelines brought in because of Covid.

In addition, the average age of drivers in the haulage industry is around 55, and many are looking at taking easier work or leaving the sector to retire. Others have left due to the IR35 tax changes brought in earlier this year.

We’ve written to Boris Johnson
We sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, signed by 22 business heads, logistics leaders and stakeholders, demonstrating the scale of the driver shortage crisis.

In our letter, we called for:
• The introduction of a temporary worker visa for HGV drivers and for this occupation to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List,
• A taskforce to be immediately established to include representation from all the relevant areas of Government and industry to help drive this change at the pace that is so desperately needed,
• Re-establishing the DEFRA Food Resilience Industry Forum, chaired by Chris Tyas, which helped to ensure the nation’s supply integrity throughout the pandemic.

Read the letter here.

We’ve developed an action plan
Our 12 point action plan has been presented to the Government, as we urged them to take action to tackle the driver shortage.

The actions listed in the plan include resolving the problems with the apprenticeship system for HGV drivers, adding HGV drivers on Government’s Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation List as a short term measure, and improving site productivity and the treatment of drivers at collection and delivery points, among other actions.

While we’re pleased that ministers have agreed to increase the funding limit for Large Goods Vehicles apprenticeships, there’s still a lot more that the Government must do.

Read our action plan here.

We’ve met with the Roads Minister
We met with Roads Minister Baroness Vere to highlight the growing peril to UK supply chains from the worsening driver shortage.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett told Roads Minister, Baroness Vere: “The need for action is clear and urgent. We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is getting worse – the situation must be addressed right now.”

Read more about this meeting here.

We’ve been on Newsnight
Our data was featured in a recent episode of Newsnight which cast a harsh light on the driver shortage.

The information which we supplied showed that:
• 40 of Britains biggest haulage firms have a total of 3,654 vacancies,
• This works out at 91 vacancies per haulier,
• Small and medium haulage firms have at least 2,573 vacancies,
• That works out to at least 4 vacancies per haulier.

Read more about our contribution to Newsnight here.

We’re opposing the relaxation of drivers’ hours
From Monday 12 July, drivers’ hours will be extended for a limited period of four weeks, allowing for driving time of up to ten hours per day, rather than nine.

RHA policy director for England and Wales Duncan Buchanan told GB News that we strongly oppose this move, saying: “Something people need to understand, is that lorry drivers already work very long hours”.

He also explained that, drivers’ hours restrictions are related only to the driving time that truckers undertake, and that drivers will have compulsory rests on top of that, plus time waiting to load and unload.

Read more here.

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