The scheduled meeting between the treasury and UK haulage industry representatives to discuss the ‘HGV driver shortage crisis’ took place on Friday 20th February.
A team of 8 staff and members from the RHA and FTA met with senior officials from the Treasury and the DfT ahead of the ‘Budget’ due on the 18th March.
Treasury officials faced a team of haulage industry representatives united and determined to get some help with the HGV driver shortage which faces the industry. The call was for financial assistance for haulage companies to help fund the cost of getting new drivers qualified and licenced and to help make the job a more realistic option for younger people. These discussions included how a ‘student-loan’ type arrangement might play a helping role in the long term goal of making the job more accessible.
In a joint statement by the FTA and RHA they said:
“The Treasury got the clear message that the road transport industry is now facing an unprecedented situation which needs urgent government intervention and that an immediate cash injection is vital if the impact on the UK economy is to be minimised. Grants to road transport operators would have a fast and beneficial effect on the number of new drivers trained and would help fill the current 45,000 driver shortfall.
“We set out a framework for how these systems would work. They would be nationwide, straight forward, accessible and time-limited in view of discussions between the industry and government over apprenticeship funding from 2017.
“In the meantime, the Chancellor has an opportunity in his Budget to reverse a damaging driver shortage and help drive positive change in the industry.”
It will be interesting to see what will happen with the Budget in March and whether anything was really gained from the meeting.
With the average age of HGV drivers being 53 and only 2% under the age of 25 something needs to be done to address the future issues in the industry where a real shortage could occur if new younger drivers are not coming in.
Many lorry drivers will argue that the conditions and pay within the job need to be improved to help retain existing drivers which would have a positive effect on attracting new drivers. If the industry was more positive and lorry drivers felt they were appreciated then the job would be more desirable among new people.