MP for Gordon challenges UK Gov over HGV driver shortage
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THE MP for Gordon Constituency, Richard Thomson has written to the UK Government Ministers calling for a range of urgent actions to be taken to address an HGV driver shortage that has the potential to disrupt critical supply chains.
Mr Thomson had previously written to the Home Secretary calling for the UK Government to urgently extend the EU Settlement Scheme deadline beyond the end of June as more and more labour shortage issues give major cause for concern.
In recent correspondence local hauliers and distribution companies have highlighted their major concerns over HGV driver shortages.
These local concerns are shared nationally by the Road Haulage Association, who are pointing to several contributory factors.
There is reduced access to labour because of Covid and Brexit; the loss of ability to train and test new drivers due to Covid restrictions and the introduction of IR-35.
The RHA are calling on the Home Office to add HGV drivers to the UK Shortage Occupation List and consider a Seasonal or Temporary Visa Scheme for qualified lorry drivers.
Experts are warning that the driver shortage is reaching a crisis point, which will affect critical supply chains if the UK Government does not take urgent action.
Richard Thomson MP said: “Road haulage is absolutely critical infrastructure, delivering food, medical supplies and critical materials the length and breadth of the country every single day.
“The impact of Covid has massively reduced testing availability for potential new drivers and Brexit has driven many long-standing drivers who are EU nationals away from the UK.
"With 10 per cent of lorry drivers being EU Nationals Brexit is clearly damaging to this vital industry.
“Major driver shortages have the potential to disrupt supply chains for many everyday items that we all take for granted and which are critical to a wide range of employment.
"For example construction supplies are critical to building works that employ thousands of people.
“The UK Government has refused calls to extend the EU Settlement Scheme or, even better, make it automatic for EU citizens already working in the UK, this would have made a significant difference.
"The UK government still has a chance to take other actions.
"Adding HGV drivers to the UK Shortage Occupation List is one of the main calls for action and is now a matter of extreme urgency.
“UK Ministers cannot allow critical supply chains to be disrupted, that would be an absolute dereliction of their duty.”
Aberdeenshire haulage firm Dyce Carriers is one of those concerned about the impact of the driver shortage. Jason Moir, who is Managing Director at the firm said: “There has been a shortage of drivers for some time now but this year has seen the problem get much worse.
“There is not one solution on its own that will solve the shortage as we have short term and long-term issues in getting new blood into the industry.
“But one thing is for sure, if we don’t get the help in the short term then some deliveries won’t get made and some products won’t make it to the shelves.”