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Christmas crisis could be avoided if PM acts now, warn haulage bosses

·2-min read
Lorries wait at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk. Haulage bosses have called for urgent Government action to avoid a crisis over Christmas (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
Lorries wait at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk. Haulage bosses have called for urgent Government action to avoid a crisis over Christmas (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

UK haulage industry bosses have told the Prime Minister to “act now to prevent a Christmas crisis” as a result of continuing lorry driver shortages.

In a letter to Boris Johnson more than 1,600 haulage sector bosses, led by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), warn without decisive action there is a “risk of further damage to not only our businesses and livelihoods, but the UK’s integrated and finely balanced supply chains”.

The letter calls for HGV drivers to be added to the shortage occupation list for at least 12 months, for reform to driver certification to help the return of retired drivers, and an HGV taskforce.

The HGV sector has warned it faces a shortage of around 100,000 drivers which has contributed to supply disruption across many sectors.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of the RHA, said the Government was “simply not addressing the short-term severity of this crisis” and said it would take 18 months to address.

The Government has launched a series of initiatives such as a three-month temporary visa, with around 5,000 visas for non-UK drivers.

However, the RHA described the proposal as “lacklustre and ill-conceived”, calling for a longer-term scheme to be introduced.

The Government has also made changes to cabotage rules to allow foreign drivers to make an unlimited number of pick-ups and drop-offs over a fixed period, in an effort to help Christmas preparations.

Mr McKenzie added: “There has never been a more challenging time for the haulage industry.

“The Prime Minister must act now or risk even more drastic disruption than we have already seen in recent months.

“For months we have been calling for urgent action. The tin-eared approach from ministers to this spiralling situating cannot continue.”

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