Improve facilities for HGV drivers or face new taxes, MPs tell freight sector

The road transport industry should be given a two-year deadline to upgrade facilities for lorry drivers, including clean showers, healthy food and space for female drivers, or face new taxes, the ministers said.

On Wednesday, a cross-party group of lawmakers called on the logistics industry to “decorate its house” by improving overnight facilities for drivers and providing new training routes for hiring more truckers from different backgrounds. This comes at a time when the sector is struggling with a shortage of HGV drivers, resulting in regular fuel shortages at petrol pumps and empty shelves in supermarkets.

Last year the Road Holes Association, an industry trade body, estimated that there was a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers due to the coronavirus crisis and Brexit. The deficit is now estimated at around 65,000 drivers.

The Commons Transportation Selection Committee said that unless changes were made in two years, the most profitable segments of the sector would face new taxes.

Under the proposed supply chain levy, large supermarkets, oil companies and online service giants may be forced to pay new facility costs for HGV drivers.

“We urge the government to be bold and force the sector to decorate its house,” said Huu Merriman, the committee’s conservative chairman. “A supply chain levy has previously worked to encourage reform.

“If industry doesn’t change, then the government should do that and send bills to those who produce and sell and those who make the most profit through increased taxes.”

The committee’s report, Road Freight Supply Chain, found that “one of the main reasons drivers are not in the sector is the lack of quality rest facilities.”

The report calls for the introduction of minimum standards for amenities, including safety, clean showers and toilets, healthy food options and services for female drivers.

Drivers cited in the report expressed concern about “bad washing facilities” in the overnight stop area, including dirty and “vandalized” showers. The report states that some official stay-over services are so bad that drivers prefer to park overnight at the levy – a practice known as “fly-parking” that can lead to fines.

The committee said the industry needs to do more to encourage women and young people to drive HGV.

“Women make up only 1% of the workforce. The under-25 ratio is below 3%, “said Merriman.” For a long time, this lack of diversity has led to more drivers retiring than being hired.

“We have been here before. In 2016, the transport committee called for action in the welding sector but little has changed. Lack of diversity is holding back the expansion of the workforce. ”

The committee also called on road transport companies to pay for the special training required to drive an HGV. Currently costs are covered by drivers.

Merriman added: “The long-term solution lies in more freight shipping by rail and water. This will help the sector decarbonate and make it more attractive to those who want to work shorter distances; We want to see their family at the end of a difficult day.

The Road Holocaust Association, which represents commercial road transport companies and has more than 7,000 members, said it “welcomed the report” extensively and agreed with its own request for changes to many recommendations. It added: “We appreciate the principles behind supply chain tariffs, but we need to make sure that this does not lead to unnecessary cost pressures.

“We are concerned that the industry cannot make the changes necessary to avoid levies in just two years when many of these changes are beyond the control of the industry.”

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