Conservative MP and former transport minister Sir John Hayes is calling on the government to fix the HGV driver shortage by giving monetary grants to facilitate training, issuing emergency licensing schemes to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic, launching a government-led recruitment drive, and ensuring facilities for drivers are improved to encourage women into the industry.
The MP for South Holland and the Deepings in Lincolnshire, pictured, is also calling for “greedy supermarkets” to stop squeezing their haulage suppliers so they can afford to pay their drivers more.
Sir John met chancellor Rishi Sunak MP last week to brief him on the scale of the crisis and suggest appropriate action.
Reporting on his meeting, he said: “Short-term solutions may provide some immediate relief, but emergency visa measures to allow more foreign drivers to come here and the extension of driver hours are sticking plasters not cures.
“A sustainable solution means finding a way to source, train and retain homegrown staff for these key jobs. That means making the job more attractive to more types of people. For instance – the number of women drivers is unlikely to increase unless roadside facilities are vastly improved.
“A strategy which cuts across government is needed. Given the all-encompassing economic significance of haulage this should be led by the Treasury.”
He said he had consulted with the road haulage industry, having already written to transport secretary Grant Shapps MP ahead of his meeting with the chancellor.
Sir John added: “Without urgent measures such as monetary grants to facilitate training, emergency licensing schemes to clear the backlog – caused by the pandemic – and a Government-led recruitment drive, employers will continue to struggle.
“The wealthy retail giants must do their bit too. As hauliers pay higher wages, those additional costs must be absorbed by the greedy supermarkets which have squeezed their suppliers dry for years.
“The firms which hauliers run are essential to our wellbeing. Lincolnshire is proud to be the home of many nationally known haulage brands which serve the nation by channelling foodstuffs and other essential goods to villages, towns and cities all over the Kingdom.
“The current problems are not of their making and they should not be left to struggle when government can step in with focused measures informed by industry experience and expertise.”
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