Driver shortages should be a major priority for the Government according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
The agency has made the call as the shortfall in number continues, made worse by by the introduction of IR35 tax changes.
Specifically, pallet firms are having to extend next day deliveries by up to five days because of the current scenario.
Furthermore, the issue has not been helped by the pandemic, which kept many EU drivers at home.
In addition, RHA has blamed a ‘complete failure to test new drivers during lockdown’, leaving a test backlog.
The introduction of IR35 was delayed by one year, but it’s now hitting many firms and drivers.
Angry drivers have, in some cases, walked out and self-furloughing, which has made the driver shortage worse.
Therefore, the RHA is calling on the Government to act on driver shortages in a number of ways.
Firstly it is arguing for greater maximum priority for vocational drivers to take their driving tests.
Secondly, RHA is calling on the Government to put truck drivers on the Occupation Shortage List.
This list would allow EU and other foreign drivers to fill some rota gaps.
More action is required on apprenticeships, says RHA.
“We have paid £500m into the Levy and have got back just £50m,” said the association.
Meanwhile, there was a call for upgrades to driver facilities, to help attract more drivers with better working environments.
Finally, RHA stated that Drivers’ hours relaxations won’t help because they doesn’t deal with the fundamental underlying problems.
Rod McKenzie, RHA policy managing director, was adamant that changes had to be made.
“The RHA firmly believes that if voice of the industry isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption.”
“Time is tight and action now is critically important,” he stressed.