What’s the Government doing to support the HGV Crisis?

What’s the Government doing to support the HGV Crisis?

The Government has the daunting task of finding a solution to a problem that has been snowballing for years, compounded by Brexit, COVID-19 and IR35.

They say that they understand the challenges caused by the HGV driver shortage and are working with the Road Haulage Industry to address these issues.

It wasn’t until July 2021 that the UK Government publicly announced a concessionary package of measures to help the Road Haulage Industry in tackling the issues caused by the shortage.

These measures consisted of support for the recruitment and retention of drivers.  However, there didn’t seem to be a clear definition on the detail.  There were proposals to:

  • Streamline the process to obtain a licence (although huge processing delays remain)
  • Increase the number of driving test slots available.
  • Offer financial assistance for training.
  • Additionally, there were plans to back industry-led initiatives to improve the working conditions for drivers and the image of industry.

The Government announced further measures in September 2021:

  • Training of up to 4,000 new HGV drivers through skills bootcamps and the adult education budget.
  • Allowing 5,000 European HGV drivers to work in the UK until the end of February 2022 on temporary VISAs.

Time will tell whether these interventions will make a difference or if it’s more of a PR exercise to appease many including the fuel and food haulage sectors.

Not so commonly known is that the Government felt it pertinent to hold off until July 2021 to admit the crisis even existed.  Despite the issue being foreseen by DEFRA and the Home Office in December 2020.

During the Government’s silence to the industry’s’ alarm bells, they did run a small RFI process in Dec 20/Jan 21.   This only ran for 4 weeks and gave a small handful of businesses permission to issue EU workers with temporary VISAs.  Unfortunately, few in the industry were aware of this mechanism.

It does beg the questions – Is the Government doing enough within the timescales needed?  Why is it so difficult to utilise the VISA mechanism? and how can we expect the UK to be an attractive proposition to EU Drivers?

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