COVID-19: Roads Minister says "Nation will owe haulage and logistics workers a huge debt of gratitude"

Baroness Vere

“The whole nation will owe haulage and logistics workers a huge debt of gratitude,” according to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Transport Security, Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

In a statement sent to Commercial Motor to address operators, Baroness Vere said that this time of national crisis “represents an unprecedented challenge for hauliers and logistics firms” but that the industry has risen to “with outstanding dedication and professionalism”.

“It has been an incredible effort, and I want to thank every single person who has contributed. You have not only ensured that Britain is fuelled and fed. You have strengthened the resilience of the country too, and helped us limit the spread of the virus, which in turn is saving lives,” the statement read.

Baroness Vere also addressed the regulatory changes that have been made in order to help support the industry and acknowledged the hardships being felt by drivers.

“I also recognise how difficult this period has been for the industry. Some drivers, for example, are living in their vehicles for days on end. Inevitably there are concerns over business viability and jobs, as there are in many sectors of the economy.

“We’ve also flexed regulations to help businesses manage through this exceptional period, in areas like CPC renewals, HGV and MoT testing, and extending drivers’ hours.”

 

Read the statement in full below:

During this time of national crisis, it’s imperative that those who can work from home do so. But it’s also crucial that goods continue to flow around Britain, that supply chains are kept open, that hospitals and chemists continue to receive deliveries of medicines, and that supermarkets can restock with fresh produce every night. This represents an unprecedented challenge for hauliers and logistics firms operating under difficult circumstances, yet it’s one the industry has risen to with outstanding dedication and professionalism.

From drivers and mechanics to staff in warehouses and distribution centres, people across the sector have been working flat out to deliver essential supplies and provide a transport lifeline. I’ve been hugely impressed by the way you’ve worked in partnership to find solutions to problems, and meet the needs of the country. We have even received offers from former drivers to return to work to help meet demand, and from companies offering warehouses and the use of their fleets to store and distribute supplies.

It has been an incredible effort, and I want to thank every single person who has contributed. You have not only ensured that Britain is fuelled and fed. You have strengthened the resilience of the country too, and helped us limit the spread of the virus, which in turn is saving lives.

However, I also recognise how difficult this period has been for the industry. Some drivers, for example, are living in their vehicles for days on end. Inevitably there are concerns over business viability and jobs, as there are in many sectors of the economy. We’ve already made £330 billion available to help companies stay afloat, and we’re ensuring non-working employees can have up to 80% of their wages supported by the government. And we stand ready to take further action and boost support if necessary.

We are in constant dialogue with the industry to monitor progress and the changing nature of the response. That means we’ve asked motorway service stations to extend opening hours, and ensure they keep offering basic services for drivers. We’ve provided guidance on social distancing within different parts of the logistics sector. We’ve also flexed regulations to help businesses manage through this exceptional period, in areas like CPC renewals, HGV and MoT testing, and extending drivers’ hours.

Of course, there will be more difficult months ahead. We are still in the early stages of this pandemic, and no-one knows when things will return to normal. But when that day comes, and we can be sure we’ve beaten the virus, the whole nation will owe haulage and logistics workers a huge debt of gratitude.

Out now: Day two of the Commercial Motor Product Innovation Daily

Product Innovation Day Two


The second edition of the Commercial Motor Product Innovation Daily, sponsored by MAN Truck & Bus UK, is out now.

From camera systems to load theft devices, and from wheel alignment to telematics, our three daily round-ups bring you all the key product launches that would have taken place at the Commercial Vehicle Show this week. We hope they will inspire you to try new technology on your own fleets.

In today's Daily:

  • Paperless compliance tool webinar for operators during coronavirus lockdown
  • Merridale warns about rise in large-scale fuel theft 
  • Explore the exciting new Maxus Deliver 9 and eDeliver 3 models from the comfort of your home computer

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