Haulage firms have called on the government to do more to help them through the coronavirus crisis as they gear up to drive economic recovery.

A survey of 600 operators has revealed the vast majority of hauliers are still struggling after pandemic lockdown measures have seen volumes collapse.

Sixteen per cent of operators claimed they could be insolvent within four weeks, despite government furlough payments and bounce-back loans offering a temporary reprieve.

More than half are calling for a weekly furlough model to service inconsistent workloads, and many are urging the Treasury for help with business rates and standing costs.

Operators said they were concerned about their vehicles being safe to drive as they prepare to get trucks back on the road. Thirty per cent feared they will struggle to secure MoTs due to suspended testing.

The survey of member and non-member haulage firms was undertaken by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) in May 2020.

The RHA has urged the government to delegate the function to non-DVSA staff and reopen authorised testing facilities to start clearing a backlog that stands at around 100,000 trucks.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said financial packages have helped keep firms afloat, but the industry needs more support to pull through the crisis and kick-start recovery.

“Hauliers have made it clear ministers must pledge more help and remove the obstacles that will hamper firms’ efforts to get back on the road,” he said.

“Furlough scheme payments and bounce back loans have plugged some gaps, but they won’t be enough to sustain cash-strapped businesses beyond the very short term.

“Debt support, flexible furlough rules and a DVSA commitment to quickly expedite the MoT backlog would boost the industry as it gears up for recovery.”

Key findings from the surveys:

  • 69 per cent of firms have successfully applied for furlough scheme funding
  • 18 per cent have secured a bounce back loan – a further 13 per cent await a decision and two per cent have been unsuccessful
  • 16 per cent of firms predict they could face insolvency and cease trading in the next four weeks
  • 85 per cent of hauliers who believe they could be gone in the next four weeks blame a drop in volumes
  • 57 per cent of firms say a weekly furlough scheme is vital to help firms emerge from the crisis
  • 30 per cent of firms fear a lack of roadworthiness testing availability will restrict their ability to recover from the crisis
  • Access to finance is a concern for 27 per cent, and 17 per cent are worried about driver health
  • 42 per cent say a new scheme to contribute to standing costs for parked up/SORN’d trucks is crucial