The UK government has threatened to tax transport companies and beneficiaries to fund a solution to the driver shortage if they don’t soon – but is this the best solution for an industry already under pressure?
“An overhaul of the road freight system cannot be done by the private sector alone” – Alistair Lindsay, Chief Operating Officer, Zeus Labs
“When the road transport sector pleaded for increased support to deal with the current challenges, we did not have a new supply chain tax in mind. Not only are we still dealing with the consequences of Brexit and supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic, but also record fuel prices, inflation and a shortage of truck drivers.” When the road transport sector pleaded for increased support to face the current challenges, we did not have a new supply chain tax in mind. Not only are we still dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, but also record fuel prices, inflation and shortages of truck drivers. Normally, it would be easy to welcome measures to improve the conditions of drivers, but too many questions remain.
“Firstly, we need assurances that this new tax will not fall on the shoulders of the small owner-operator fleets (with 10 trucks or less), who form the majority of registered haulage businesses in the UK. United and underpin our national supply chain.Of them are already selling trucks or going out of business.
“At a time when economic growth depends on consumers having access to goods in stores, the transportation industry needs to focus more – not barriers – on investment, support and growth. The sector supply chain needs to do its part, but progress will come from innovation and development, and that cannot happen without government involvement. When it comes to building more facilities, we should seek to partner with the government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund, so that we also develop the charging ports along the highways.
“Currently, there are over 1,000 public electric vehicle charging stations outside Greater London. The fact is that cleaner fuels and alternative energy options can be catered for by energy providers based in UK, without the need for foreign imports. This crisis could be the stimulus for a rapid overhaul of our road freight system, but this cannot be done by the private sector alone. It is an encouraging sign to see government realize that urgent action is needed, but this latest proposal seems to ignore its role in creating change – at a time when we should now be pulling together.
“It is not the job of the transport industry to build facilities for all road users” – Michelle Gardner, Public Policy Manager, Logistics UK
“Driver shortages have been an ongoing challenge for the industry for years, but have come to a head with the departure of drivers from the EU post-Brexit and a backlog of HGV driver testing – due to Covid -19 – which has prevented many new recruits from getting licenses The logistics industry has already paid £700m into the Apprenticeship Levy scheme, however an apprenticeship is not always appropriate for logistics companies, and the sector only made £150m out of it The scope of the scheme needs to be widened to cover additional skills and qualifications , so that it can be better used by industry to help solve skills shortages Many members of Logistics UK pay for CPC training for their drivers An additional levy would be detrimental to businesses operating on small margins who t are already working hard to train staff.
“One of the main barriers to recruitment is the attractiveness of driving due to the lack of available roadside facilities and secure parking. Drivers and industry workers have the right to access sanitary facilities, a decent meal and safe parking.Many drivers resort to taking their legally-mandatory breaks on the side of the road, which is a national disgrace.To solve this problem, the government must review the process current planning process, which may delay the construction of new facilities And while industry is willing to invest in this area, it is not their responsibility to build and operate public amenities that cater to all road users, and not only to the transport sector.
“Industry has therefore been encouraged by aspects of the government’s The Future of Freight plan, which includes a call for evidence on planning application processes, to help the government understand how best to support industry as it seeks to introduce more truck parking and improve roadside facilities Any levy would place an unfair burden on businesses in the sector, and government and local authorities need to engage with industry and work together.