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There has been a lot of speculation in the media recently about the HGV driver shortage, the possibility of Christmas delay disasters, and post-Brexit supply chain disruption as a result. The RHA is therefore keen to set the record straight.

“The UK haulage industry is currently facing a shortage of between 45k and 50k HGV drivers and we as an industry need to face this challenge head-on”, said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

“And with a shortage of drivers across Europe, it’s vital that the sector does more to bring people into the industry.

“As part of its move to tackle this, the RHA has created, together with telematics provider Microlise, Road to Logistics – a national training programme developed to encourage new talent into the transport and logistics industry from all sections of society where individuals need help and support to regain self-confidence and independence. Road to Logistics will help companies to reduce the cost of recruiting new talent into their organisations.”

In addition the RHA, together with Close Brothers Asset Finance, has launched a scheme encouraging RHA members with less than 20 vehicles to apply for funding to recruit and train the next generation of HGV drivers. Close Brothers will help pay for 20 apprentices to learn their skills, meaning the signed up hauliers won’t have to bear the full cost of employing the apprentices until they are making a positive contribution to their business.

Richard Burnett continued: “Businesses are looking for improved funding and clarity on the licences that can be undertaken in the driver apprentice scheme. We need improved training schemes with greater flexibility over the access to the available funding especially for the smaller operator.

“The Brexit effect on the exchange rate has resulted in some Eastern European HGV drivers returning to their homelands. Operators have been reassuring drivers that there is a future working in the UK. With this, more certainty of residential rights, and an improved exchange rate, we are confident that the drift back home will reduce.”

Concluding, Richard Burnett said: “The road freight sector will continue to deliver the goods we all need, the supermarket shelves will not empty, but it’s vital for the good of the whole economy that we increase the availability of quality drivers.”