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Government response to ‘90,000’ HGV driver shortage is ‘kicking the can down the road’, says local MP

Stephen Morgan MP has labelled the Government’s response to tackle a shortage of HGV drivers as “kicking the can down the road”.

The driver shortage has been estimated to be between 76,000 to 90,000 drivers, according to Logistics UK. (1)

It comes after a range of senior Labour frontbenchers responded to an open Government letter to the road haulage industry, underlining that the new measures are not enough to address the scale of the shortage crisis. (2) (3)

This shortage existed before the Covid-19 pandemic but has been worsened by Brexit making the UK a less attractive location for overseas drivers, primarily due to increased bureaucracy at UK borders.

In a joint letter, the five frontbenchers said the Government have only offered “short-term solutions” which risk compromising the safety of already exhausted drivers, increasing their working hours, and putting road users in danger by diluting test requirements for new drivers.

The letter warns food shortages could last through to the end of the year and urges the Government not to “ruin yet another Christmas for British families, after the chaos of last year”.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

“These government measures responding to the HGV driver shortage crisis will just kick the can down the road for another year.

The shortage is having a severe impact on businesses and consumers right now, locally and nationally, yet the Government is doing nothing to boost recruitment, particularly of women – which could make a crucial difference to the number of drivers.

“Government must take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. This means not ignoring half of the population and taking steps to encourage more women into jobs in the industry.”

One of the frontbenchers who signed the joint-letter, Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Roads and Future Transport, also said:

“This crisis is affecting businesses and consumers now, and the Government needs to understand that.

 “Labour would take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. Crucially, we would do this all without compromising road safety.”