Plaid Cymru MP urges UK Government to tackle lorry driver shortages
Arfon MP Hywel Williams has called on the UK Government to provide funding to help boost the recruitment and training of HGV drivers.
In a letter to the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, he says help is urgently required – particularly for smaller haulage businesses operating on tight margins.
The call comes as many retailers are struggling to fill shelves and one Welsh haulage group describes the current driver shortage as the worst in 50 years.
The letter states: “While it is welcome that some hauliers and chains are starting to increase salaries and offer generous bonuses to new-hires, I would urge you to pay specific regard for smaller haulier businesses who, operating in an industry with notoriously tight margins, are unable to compete and provide such lucrative offers to attract new employees.
“I hope you would agree with me that such businesses deserve extra support to ensure that we not only have a competitive and diverse UK-haulage industry, but one that continues to serve niche and difficult to access markets such as deliveries to rural areas.”
The Road Haulage Association has warned that the UK is facing a shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers with the largest hauliers having an average of 91 unfilled vacancies.
The Plaid MP also criticised the UK Government for use of ‘rhetoric’ in its dealings with the haulage industry about Brexit having delivered ‘increased sovereignty’.
He said: “It is disappointing that so far, rather than offer the industry support and certainty, the Government has failed to take action and instead continues to speak about the ‘increased sovereignty over our decision-making that Brexit has provided’.
“Such rhetoric means very little for UK businesses, particularly when coupled with vague Government promises of more efficient testing processes in the long term, shortcuts in training rather than the maintenance of standards, and ambiguous promises of future regulatory changes.”
The current shortages have seen some of the larger haulage companies offering HGV drivers salaries in excess of £50,000 to try and attract applicants.