I have been contacted by many people involved in our local logistics sector who have raised concerns about the challenges facing their sector, including a lack of HGV drivers, a lack of rest stops for drivers as they travel around the UK, and the delays in the processing of licences by the DVLA.
I believe that our HGV drivers are our unsung heroes who have performed critically important work throughout the pandemic transporting vital goods, including food and drink, across the UK although the challenges facing the sector predated the pandemic. I also appreciate that the logistics sector is an important employment sector within Bosworth as companies benefit from easy access to the motorway network right across the UK. It has been vital for me to explore these concerns in further detail with Ministers, local businesses and national trade bodies.
I am grateful for the businesses and constituents who have shared their views about the challenges facing the haulage industry. If there are issues relating to these challenges that you wish to bring my attention, please email me at email@example.com
What have I be doing to raise this issue at Westminster
I am grateful for the businesses and constituents who have shared their views about the challenges facing the haulage industry. Local intelligence helps to inform my work at Westminster, so this visit, as well as I am grateful for the businesses and individuals who have shared their views. I hope to visit the businesses during the Summer Recess.
I have written to the Ministers at the Department for Transport about the challenges facing the sector and I have made similar enquiries during conference calls. I have also written to the Senior Leadership of the Road Haulage Association to seek the RHA’s assessment, and what can be done to improve current circumstances. I have also raised specific issues about the lack of rest stops for drivers when travelling around the UK, and the extent of delays in processing driving licences for HGV drivers.
I have spoken to third sector providers with an interest in supporting people into the HGV and Haulage Sector and I have written to the Minister for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions to ask what the DWP can do to encourage people to consider such an important career for our country.
I have also raised a specific written parliamentary questions with the Department for Transport about the delays in the processing of HGV Licences as well as Rest Stops for HGV Drivers.
Q. To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress the DVLA is making to tackle backlogs in (a) HGV and (b) car driving licences?
A. (Rachel Maclean Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport.) The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)’s online services have been available and unaffected throughout the pandemic and are the quickest and easiest way to renew a driving licence. However, many people still choose or have to apply for their driving licence using a paper application. The DVLA receives around 60,000 items of mail every day which must be dealt with in person.
The DVLA has had a reduced number of operational staff on site to allow for social distancing, in line with Welsh Government requirements. The DVLA has leased an additional building to accommodate more operational staff and has extended the opening hours of its contact centre.
The number of applications awaiting processing fluctuates on a daily basis as driving licences are issued and new applications received. The DVLA is currently processing paper applications for both HGV and car driving licences within around six weeks of receipt. However, drivers with a medical condition may experience further delays because the DVLA is often reliant on receiving information or test results from medical professionals before a licence can be issued, to ensure drivers can meet the required medical standards.
Q. To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to encourage the development of high quality rest stops for the benefit of HGV drivers.
A. (Rachel Maclean. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport) On the 24 July 2018, the Government issued a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework that now indicates that the need for sufficient overnight lorry parking should be considered in planning policies and decisions. My Department continues to work with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to enhance this further with Local Authorities and to highlight the criteria and consideration for HGV lorry parking applications.
I recognise that there are long standing issues around driver welfare, including adequate safe and secure HGV parking with acceptable facilities for drivers. We are committed to progressing work to support the strategic and long-term development of lorry parking provisions and are looking at both established and new approaches to increase the provision for improved overnight lorry parking in England. We are also keen to explore with the industry innovative alternative approaches to provide more parking capacity and better facilities to improve HGV driver welfare.
If you wish for sight of the Ministerial responses, please let me know and I will revert back accordingly.
The Governments’ Recent Announcement
On 20 July 2021, the Secretary of States for Transport, Work and Pension and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a package of measures from the Government to tackle the HGV driver shortage, but also mindful of the importance of road safety and the need for drivers to be supervised until fully qualified:
- The Government will launch a new consultation to allow drivers to take one test to drive both an articulated and rigid lorry.
- The consultation will also consider allowing trainers to actually examine drivers in the off-road manoeuvres part of the HGV driving test.
- The consultation will also consider whether specific car and trailer tests should be required.
- The Government will also seek to help the road haulage sector to improve working conditions of drivers including supporting more official parking spaces for lorry drivers and how to improve standard of lorry parks.
- Ministers will also hear more from sector leaders about an industry-led Year of Logistics about how to attract people to join the industry from all parts of society, as well as encouraging those who have left the industry to re-join, and developing a new driver training pilot to bring job-seekers into industry.
- The Government is also asking local councils to be flexible around delivery times to supermarkets and other retailers allowing drivers to make deliveries earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
You can read more about the Government’s measures via these weblinks: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1004268/hgv-driver-shortage-letter-to-industry.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-package-of-measures-to-support-road-haulage-industry
What will I do next?
Whilst I am very pleased with the Government’s announcements, I am anxious to ensure progress in this area. I will review the announcement in detail, as well as the Minister responses that I am receiving, in view of further public and private enquiries. It is important that progress is achieved, because that will benefit all parties including the logistics companies, HGV drivers as well as for us as consumers who rely on the ease of transportation of goods around the UK. I will continue to do the best I can to pursue everyone’s concerns.
Issues facing the HGV Sector and Shortage of Haulage Drivers
Further to my previous website update about my work and enquiries about the HGV and Haulage Sector, I have received an update from Baroness Vere of Norbiton, Minister for Roads, Buses and Places at the Department for Transport. I am advised the following from the Minister.
- The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency launched its consultation on changes to HGV and bus driving tests and allowing car drivers to tow a trailer without an extra test on 10 August. You can submit your responses via the following weblink: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-hgv-and-bus-driving-tests-and-allowing-car-drivers-to-tow-a-trailer-without-an-extra-test. The consultation closes on Tuesday 7 September 2021.
- The Government is “looking at both established and new approaches” to increase overnight lorry parking provision. The Government has issued a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework highlighting the need for sufficient overnight lorry parking to be considered in planning policies and decisions.
- The Government is seeking to improve the quantity and quality of overnight facilities for drivers as well as access to facilities during the day.
- The Department for Transport as published a joint letter with the Health and Safety Executive to remind businesses of their legal obligation to provide toilet and handwashing facilities for drivers visiting their premises to deliver of collect goods. The joint letter can be viewed via the following weblink: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/887867/dft-hse-letter-drivers-facilities.pdf
- The planning for the ‘Year of Logistics’ is taking place and further details will be available soon.
I would encourage you to get involved with the consultation. I am also advised that the joint letter from the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive can be printed off and presented to premises to remind businesses of their legal obligations.
I am also pleased that there seems to be some positive developments being highlighted by national government but as the local MP, I need to be assured that good policy intentions mean meaningful change in practice. I will continue to follow this matter closely at Westminster, drawing on experiences and ideas from individuals and businesses in Bosworth.