There has been a demand for action over driver shortages from two business groups.

Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium (BRC) have written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with concerns.

The letter outlines three steps the government can take to overcome the problem and protect the supply chain. 

Firstly, the two groups want to increase DVSA’s testing capacity permanently. 

As a result, the agency would be able to process the backlog of driver tests, they argue. 

Secondly, Logistics UK and BRC say the government should also review the decision not to grant temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU. 

These drivers could supplement UK drivers in the short-term, while the testing backlog is cleared. 

Meanwhile, new drivers could be trained and become qualified during this period.

Finally, there was a call to improve driver recruitment and for more investment. Specifically, there was a request for a return of the National Skills Fund. 

The money from the fund would then be used for driver training and inject flexibility into the Apprenticeship Levy.

The demand for action comes as the groups say the situation is likely to worsen.

David Wells, Logistics UK’s chief executive, said positive measures were needed.

“The current shortfall of around 90,000 drivers is placing unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have exacerbated the situation. 

“Subsequently, the pandemic halted driver training and testing for more than 12 months. 

An estimated 25,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the transition period.

Concluding, Wells said the government needs to provides a clear road map and tangible support for industry. 

“[We need] to ensure that our stores can continue to provide what the country needs every day.”

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