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Government Measures Tackling Driver Shortage Not Enough

The haulage and road transport industry has said that the new UK government measures introduced to tackle the driver shortage crisis will not provide immediate relief.

Sky News reports that the Department for Transport (DfT) posted an open letter from the secretary of state Grant Shapps to the logistics industry which outlined the new measures designed to tackle the driver shortage, which the Road Haulage Association claims now has reached a shortfall of 100,000.

The new measures largely focus on increasing the numbers of new HGV licences issued by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) from around 1,500 passes a week to 2,000.

There is also a promise of support for driver training schemes through increased funding via apprenticeships, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also created a pilot HGV driver training scheme to attract jobseekers.

However, the letter explicitly ruled out the prospect of issuing temporary visas to non-UK drivers.

The letter says: “Large numbers of EU nationals have settled status or pre-settled status in the UK and continue to be an important part of the lorry driving workforce. But for the future workforce, we will need to develop people resident in the UK as opposed to specifically providing visas for this group of workers.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the measures but said the crisis had reached such a crisis point that it needed immediate short-term measures and called on ministers to put HGV drivers on the Home Office Shortage Occupation List.

RHA CEO Richard Burnett said: “This is a step in the right direction long-term, but it doesn’t address the critical short-term issues we’re facing. The problem is immediate, and we need access to drivers from overseas on short-term visas.

“The idea to simplify training and speed up testing is welcome; along with encouraging recruitment, it will only improve things in a year or two’s time.”

 

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