Fuel shortages: Pandemic stopped HGV driver training says Tory MP
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Tweeting on Tuesday, Sir John Redwood said that the SDP leader – who garnered the most votes in Sunday’s election, but fell far short of an outright majority – was “wrong to blame Brexit for a shortage of HGV drivers that affects the continent as well as the UK.” As German political leaders squabble over a potential coalition government, Sir John added: “Trying to form a government with under 26 percent of the vote should be problem enough for him.”
A shortage of haulers across Europe has led to shortages of fuel and supplies reaching shops and petrol stations.
However, in the UK the market has adjusted, with pay packets for HGV drivers massively increasing as companies try to meet demand.
Last week, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that one “top milk firm” was offering as much as “£78,000 a year”.
Meanwhile, job listings on Indeed show one distribution firm in Loughborough is paying between £26,000 and £45,000 for milkmen.
The average salary is around £28,000.
Website Total Jobs is also showing one HGV role offering up to £70,000 a year for a lorry driver based out of Slough.
Yodel is looking for van drivers in London, and is offering up to £52,000 a year at the moment.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Yodel driver is £30,859.
European figures such as Mr Scholz and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier have sought to lay the blame for the driver shortage on Brexit.
However, the Government has repeatedly said that it was the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic that was fuelling the shortage.
Increased productivity as economies around the world unlock from the pandemic has meant a shortage of natural gas. The Government has said that it is for this reason that there is a driver shortage as well.
In response to shortages in the lorry driver market, the Government has sought to ease restrictions on new drivers.
On Saturday, the Government announced that as many as 3,000 people would be able to go through “intensive” training to become qualified lorry drivers in time for Christmas.
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An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the government’s adult education budget.
In a potential blow to the EU, the Government has also approved 3-month temporary visas for 5,000 foreign hauliers to come to the UK to cope with the pre-Christmas demand.
However, it said: “we want to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour to build a high-wage, high-skill economy.
“Visas will not be the long term solution, and reform within the industry is vital.
“That’s why the Government continues to support the industry in solving this issue in the long term through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Saturday that the Government was “acting now”, but “the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.”
The Department for Transport is also working with the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency to ensure that trained drivers are tested as soon as they have completed their course, it said.
The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has also placed army lorry drivers on standby to fill gaps in supply, should the need arise.
In Sunday’s election in Germany, the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) became the second largest party, as Chancellor Angela Merkel retires from politics in hopes of being replaced by Armin Laschet – who ran a campaign peppered with gaffes.
Mr Scholz’s Social Democratic Party took 26 percent of the vote, but failed to win an outright majority to form a government.
He will need the support of two other parties to form a government, or face returning to another election.
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