Today (20 July 2021)’s announcement of a government plan to support the recovery of the logistics sector and tackle HGV driver shortages acknowledges industry concerns over testing delays and the simplification of the process involved in the acquisition of an HGV licence. However, according to business group Logistics UK, the plan does not deliver on the critical promises made to the industry over three years ago on the need to increase safe and secure parking facilities for drivers across the nation’s road network:
“The plans revealed by government today only go part of the way to addressing the crucial problem areas that the industry has been talking with government about for years,” says Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director at Logistics UK. “After all the incredibly hard work to keep the country stocked with all that it needed throughout the pandemic, it is dispiriting to see that the safety and security of our workforce in the course of doing their jobs is still not being prioritised.”
“The lack of available overnight parking spaces continues to be a huge impediment to attracting more people to join the industry and we need the government to make a far clearer commitment to deliver the 1,500 parking spaces it promised in 2018. Without the safe and secure locations in which to take legally mandated rest stops, it will be impossible to diversify the workforce and attract new employees to the sector.”
Today’s announcement includes a commitment by ministers to work with industry leaders to attract new drivers, simplify training and encourage people to remain in the sector. But, as Ms de Jong continues, the plan needs concrete targets and timelines to help the industry recruit more drivers:
“It is good to see the urgent focus placed by government on increased HGV driver testing with DVSA, as this is currently the biggest blocker to new entrants entering the workforce,” continues Ms de Jong, “but without targets and a workable timeline, this is simply a statement of intent. We need to know how soon the backlog of 25,000 test passes can be cleared more swiftly by the DVSA, as we estimate at current rates this will take 27 weeks (ie until the end of January 2022). We welcome proposals for reform of the vocational driving test process to increase test capacity– but it will take time to make the necessary changes to legislation, and for it to be implemented on the ground, before the full benefit can be felt.
“As always, Logistics UK will continue to work proactively with all areas of government to identify the tangible steps that need to be taken on the route to implementation of this plan, to deliver the support our industry needs as it helps the country to get back on its feet.”
Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, including its ground-breaking research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the whole supply chain, please visit logistics.org.uk.