With the pressure continuing to rise for the haulage sector, the UK Government are planning to step in and help.
The Road Haulage Association recently announced an estimated 100,000 person shortage for HGV drivers, compared to the 60,000 person shortage pre-COVID. The increasing pressure on existing hauliers to make up for the shortage of drivers has led to much confusion and upset in the industry with the UK Government even announcing an extension in driver hours to help meet the demand. However, many industry professionals found this to be unsafe and lacking regard for driver safety, forcing the government to change their wording on the rule stating the hour ‘must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.’
With the increase in demand and lack of manpower, there have been nationwide food and water shortages, causing local shop owners to take the wheel and large corporations like Haribo to work with partners across the food and drink industry to address the problem. Due to the ongoing commotion and disruption, the Government have decided to take a step forward. With British Ministers, Grants Shapps, Thérèse Coffey and George Eustice writing an open letter to announce a package of measures to support recruitment and retention in the transport industry.
The letter starts by thanking key road haulage workers for their vital service during the pandemic before turning to the driver shortage issue. The ministers have stated an increase in HGV driver testing. They mentioned the DVSA has increased throughput from 1,150 successful passes a week to 1,500. These are not the only steps being taken to increase driver throughput, the Department for Transport is scheduled to meet and discuss the possibility of allowing potential drivers to take one test to drive both an artic and a rigid, to streamline the HGV license backlog.
The Government has also announced plans to improve drivers working conditions by supporting more official parking spaces for trucks and are looking for ways to better lorry parks. They believe these changes are key to “addressing the shortage and encouraging British workers to forge long, successful careers in the sector.” The ministers furthered their recruitment efforts by confirming the funding of C+E apprenticeships will increase to £7,000.
British Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps believes “the Government is here to help [the transport industry]. This set of measures will kickstart that help, easing pressure on the sector as we work together to attract new drivers, improve conditions and ensure the industry’s future is a prosperous one.” What are your thoughts on the Government’s new plans to help hauliers?