The RHA is calling for urgent Government action to ease a growing crisis in driver shortages ~ made worse by the introduction of IR35 tax changes. Pallet firms in particular are having to extend-next day deliveries by up to five days.
The situation was critical even before the pandemic with many EU truckers heading home for obvious Brexit-related reasons. Add to that the complete failure to test new drivers during lockdown which left a backlog of thousands of tests – and potential drivers sidelined.
Covid-19 saw the introduction of IR35 delayed by one year but it’s now hitting many firms and drivers.
No-one likes a pay cut and drivers’ anger resulted in walkouts and self-furloughing – further exacerbating the driver shortage.
The RHA is calling on the Government to act:
- Driving tests – we are arguing for greater maximum priority for vocational drivers to clear the backlog.
- RHA’s Road to Logistics recruitment and training programme and programmes like KickStart are vital to get new blood into the industry. Hundreds of would-be lorry drivers are desperate to work but the test delays means they can’t get their all-important HGV licenses.
- Occupation Shortage List. We are insisting that Government puts lorry drivers on the list, thereby allowing EU and other foreign drivers to fill some rota gaps – there is also a massive driver shortage in the EU.
- Apprenticeships – we have paid £500m into the Levy and have got back just £50m – a very unfair payout for an industry with a critical staff and youth shortage.
- We need more funding to pay for the expensive lorry training.
- Driver facilities – we can’t expect people to want to join our industry if no toilets, wash facilities or safe and secure parking exists.
- Drivers’ hours relaxations won’t help because they doesn’t deal with the fundamental underlying problems. Making people work longer hours isn’t the solution.
Rod McKenzie, RHA policy managing director said: “The RHA firmly believes that if voice of the industry isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption. This will impact many businesses ability to recover from the pandemic. Time is tight and action now is critically important”.