The RHA has published a 12-point plan to tackle the HGV driver shortage which it warns has now reached a major crisis point.
Launching the plan, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “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.”
He added: “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 government is also unhelpful for recruiting and retaining drivers.”
RHA is warning that the current situation means that freight rates are rising to a level that operators are finding unsustainable, with costs having to be passed on to consumers.
Burnett said: “We need government to act and address the driver shortage for the industry and the drivers. While we welcome the increase in HGV apprenticeship funding to £7,000, this barely scratches the surface of the problem.”
In a report which contains the 12-point plan, the RHA points to a litany of events which have brought the shortage to a crisis point.
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It states: “A combination of factors – many of them long-standing – has contributed to the current situation. Recovery from Covid 19 is increasing demand across supply chains, the impact is already being seen with the increased opening of “non-essential” retail and parts of the hospitality sector in recent weeks.
“The recovery is exacerbating the already existing shortage. Brexit has contributed too. So has 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 government towards lorries and road transport in general is also unhelpful in recruiting and retaining drivers. Changes around IR35 have not helped either, adding cost and uncertainty for many operators.”
It calls for government action centred around a 12-point plan which includes the following:
1. Include HGV drivers on the government’s skilled worker shortage occupation list
2. Coronavirus recovery – a seasonal visa scheme for qualified HGV drivers
3. Continued priority driving tests for HGV drivers
4. Establish a ‘Return to HGV Driving’ scheme
5. Better promotion of the job and the sector as a whole
6. Apprenticeship funding gap for C+E drivers in England and Wales
7. Apprenticeships for Class C drivers
8. An SME-focused HGV driver training scheme
9. An independent HGV independent training loan scheme
10. Other training schemes – DWP pilots/Road to Logistics
11. Increase productivity of the road network
12. Improve site productivity and the treatment of drivers at collection and delivery points
The report is available here: RHA Driver Shortage Actions 04.06.21.pdf
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