Budget 2021: Sunak outlines measures to alleviate HGV crisis
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As the UK moves towards the crucial Christmas period, Martin Reid of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), claimed the rules surrounding bringing lorry drivers from abroad is still too difficult. Speaking at the Scottish Affairs Committee, he called on the UK to adjust its shortage occupation list. Without the occupation being on the list, Mr Reid claimed it’s easier for “a ballerina” to enter the UK.
He said: “It is easier for a ballerina to come to the UK than it is an HGV driver.
“‘HGV driver’ is not seen as a skilled occupation.
“Now, anybody who knows anything about that will know it is a skilled occupation.
“But because it is seen as Level 2 it cannot take its place on the shortage occupation list, which in turn means that there is lower levels of funding available in order to bring people into the industry, so there is a whole knock-on effect.”
Despite claims from Remainers, Mr Reid insisted the issues surrounding driver shortages had not been solely caused by Brexit.
He added: “Unfortunately the factors that have come in the past couple of years have exacerbated an already existing problem.
“We had the situation where we had a number of European operatives that came freely and working within the country who are no longer able to.”
“We have an ageing workforce and we rely on those new tests to happen because of the churn that happens.”
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It is estimated the UK has a driver shortage of close to 100,000 due to some returning to Europe, poor working conditions and those taking early retirement.
This comes after the Government announced a review into compulsory ongoing training for HGV drivers.
Currently, drivers must undergo five days of training every five years to remain fully qualified.
The review will now look to update the process post-Brexit.
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A further 5,000 new drivers have also been made available through boot camps.
The DVLA has also processed 40,000 HGV tests and vocational licences over the last four weeks.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “We’re listening to industry leaders who have told us about the issues HGV drivers face with CPC arrangements.
“Now we’ve taken back control of our own laws and regulations, I’m delighted to say we’re launching a review into these training rules.
“We understand it’s vital for drivers to remain fully qualified – but we’re looking to ensure they can do so in the most efficient way possible whilst maintaining road safety standards.
“No driver should be out of pocket or out of work through no fault of their own.
“This is the latest in a raft of 30 measures we’ve taken to support this vital sector and encourage drivers to return to the job or kickstart a new career in the industry.
“These measures are working – there is no backlog of HGV licence applications and we’re seeing over a thousand more people than normal apply for a licence each week.”
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