The Department of Transport has announced a series of measures which it aims will solve the road haulage problem. It will include letters sent to people with HGV licences to encourage them to return
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Drivers who hold an HGV licence are being encouraged by the government to get back behind the wheel of lorries to solve the current shortage crisis with nearly one million letters being sent out.
It is one of the measures being used to deal with the road haulage problem that is causing shortages for many consumer goods and is being blamed on a combination of the pandemic and Brexit.
The Department of Transport is also aiming to get more people trained up to become lorry drivers.
It stated: “Up to 4,000 people will be trained as new HGV drivers to help tackle skills shortages and support more people to launch careers within the logistics sector.
“Package of measures includes using MOD examiners to help increase immediate HGV testing capacity by thousands over the next 12 weeks.”
Notably, though, will be the letters going out to try and convince HGV licence holders to get back driving by pointing out better salaries and conditions.
It stated: “Nearly one million letters to be sent to all drivers who currently hold an HGV driving licence, encouraging them back into the industry.”
It added that the letters “would thank HGV drivers for their vital role supporting our economy, and to encourage those who have left the industry to return”.
“The letter, which will arrive on doormats over the coming days, sets out that the steps the road haulage sector is taking to improve the industry, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours,” it continued.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the new package of measures is to help “ease the global crisis in the UK”.
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He said: “This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.
“We are acting now but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.
“After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”
There are also going to be new visas for foreign HGV drivers until this Christmas to help “food and fuel” industries with shortage.
A total 5,000 lorry driver visas to be made available and 5,500 poultry workers will be added to try and prevent empty shelves in shops over the festive period.
The DfT said that recruitment for additional short-term HGV drivers and poultry workers will begin in October and these visas will be valid until December 24, 2021.
An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the government’s adult education budget.
As fuel tanker drivers need additional safety qualifications, the government is to look at how they can get their licences as soon as possible, said the DfT.
Measures will be put in place to ensure that testing for drivers who have finished training will be ready as soon as possible.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “HGV drivers keep this country running. We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.
“As we build back from the pandemic we’re committed to supporting people, no matter their background, to get the skills and training they need to get good jobs at any stage of their lives, while creating the talent pipeline businesses need for the future.”
Elizabeth de Jong, Logistics UK’s Director of Policy, said: “Logistics UK welcomes the Government package of measures aimed at improving the ongoing driver crisis.
“The government’s decision to grant 5,000 temporary visas for HGV drivers to help in the short term is a huge step forward; we are so pleased the government has listened to our calls and has made this bold decision to support the UK economy.
“We are also delighted that DfT have agreed to jointly send nearly 1 million letters to all drivers who currently hold an HGV driving licence.
“With fantastic HGV driving opportunities available in the logistics industry, now is the perfect time to consider returning to the occupation.”