The government has dealt a blow to the haulage industry by ruling out the funding of HGV licence acquisitions, which many were hoping would help ease the UK’s growing driver shortage.
Department for Transport minister Lord Ahmed spoke at the third, and final evidence session for the Transport Committee’s Road haulage sector: Skills workforce planning inquiry telling the committee “The principle remains that we won’t look at funding HGV licences. That has been a principle established since 2005 and that is a position we will not be charging.”
The news was met with disappointment from the Road Haulage Association (RHA), who had been lobbying for direct government funding of HGV licences after estimating a shortfall of 40,000.
“The short answer is no” Said Lord Ahmed, when asked again during the committee if the government had any plans to fund HGV licences “It isn’t something the government is intending to change.
Department for Transport Minister Lord Ahmed
However within the scope of the new Trial blazer apprenticeship, we are looking at and intending to discuss with the industry to see if there is an elements based on knowledge in training that can be looked at in terms of funding.
But in terms of specifically funding the licencing, we are not intending to change our policy.”
With the cost of gaining HGV licence’s as high as £3,000, it is widely believed that this cost is a serious roadblock in attracting new drivers to the industry.
In a recent study completed by Returnloads.net with over 400 HGV driver
s, although start-up costs may be a factor in attracting new drivers, the results showed that conditions after the fact were a big repellent too. These conditions included the long hours, low pay and the way employers treat drivers.
The lack of available vacancies for new HGV drivers may also play a part in the shortfall, with haulage companies not wanting to risk unexperienced drivers on the road and even insurance companies unwilling to accept them on policies.