Shortage of lorry drivers is now ‘catastrophic’

A shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has hit ‘catastrophic proportions’, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

(C) Provided by Motoring Research Lorry drivers

It believes the driver shortage has hit ‘crisis levels’ due to a combination of factors, including Brexit, hostility towards lorries and Covid-19. The RHA has called upon the government to make urgent changes in order to support the sector. The lack of drivers means freight rates ‘are rising to a level that operators are finding unsustainable’, says the RHA.

It warns costs may have to be passed onto consumers as a result. In order to improve the situation, the organisation has produced a 12-point list of changes that it wants the government to introduce: .       Include HGV drivers on Government’s Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation List

.       Offer a seasonal visa scheme for qualified HGV drivers .       Continue to provide priority driving tests for HGV drivers .       Establish a ‘Return to HGV Driving’ scheme

.       Promote the job and sector better than at present .       Offer an apprenticeship funding gap for C+E drivers in England and Wales .       Offer apprenticeships for Class C drivers

.       Launch an SME-focused HGV driver training scheme .       Launch an independent HGV training loan scheme .       Introduce other training schemes

.       Increase the productivity of the road network .   Improve site productivity and the treatment of drivers at collection and delivery points

‘Upturn in the economy is increasing demand’

(C) Provided by Motoring Research Lorry drivers

“The upturn in the economy since Covid-19 is increasing demand across supply chains and the reopening of non-essential retail outlets and parts of the hospitality sector is making the situation even worse,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “The pandemic also resulted in the loss of about 12 months of driver training and testing.

The long-term ineffectiveness of apprenticeships for lorry drivers and the general hostility from authorities and the government is also unhelpful for recruiting and retaining drivers.  “We need the Government to act and address the driver shortage for the industry and the drivers. While we welcome the increase in HGV apprenticeship funding to GBP7,000, this barely scratches the surface of the problem.”

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