UK facing looming driver shortage

The UK is facing a looming LGV driver shortage with the need to be CPC accredited by September 2014, and and a relatively old workforce, creating very real risks to recovery.

A new report from Skills for Logistics (SfL) titled A looming Driving Shortage? reveals there has been a 31% decline in LGV tests passed (C, C+E, C1, C1+E) during the last four years, with the 2010/11 total standing at to 22,700 according to Department for Transport data.

Worse, not all of these licence holders are becoming professional drivers: just over 12,000 individuals applied for the now mandatory (for all new drivers) Driver Qualification Card, however this includes coach and bus drivers too.

The findings back up CM’s own investigation into the issue (CM, 15 March), which revealed that tests taken (C and C+E) had more than halved from 2005/06 to 2009/10 to just 43,094. Those successfully passed in the same period fell 45% to 21,749.

The shortage will be even more acute for the sector as more than a quarter of LGV drivers are aged 60 or above, while just 1% are under the age of 25. Drivers retiring in the next five years will leave a demand for 48,000 drivers.

While there are 1,545,000 LGV licence holders, just 299,000 drive professionally. SfL estimates there is currently a shortfall of 2.7 million Driver CPC training hours, suggesting many older drivers do not intend to continue working past the September 2014 CPC deadline.

“The driver shortage is not new but its effects were mitigated by the economic downturn,” says Ross Moloney, director at SfL. “Now, as the UK economy recovers, resolving this issue will be critical to avoid holding up growth.”

Lorry road user charge should be scrapped, says RAC Foundation

Plans for a lorry road user charge (LRUC) should be abandoned and a system of road pricing for all vehicles introduced as tax revenue declines, according to the RAC Foundation.

The call comes just weeks after a consultation into an HGV charge to level the playing field for UK and foreign operators ended with the industry urging the government to provide finer details.

A report commissioned by the RAC Foundation outlines how a “relentless decline in fuel duty and VED revenue”, due to increasingly fuel efficient cars and a predicted uptake of electric vehicles, will leave a black hole in public finances.

RAC Foundation director professor Stephen Glaister says “all road users, including freight” should therefore be included in road user charging, which would also mean scrapping the LRUC: “It doesn’t fit in; it’s an obstacle,” he says. “The revenue [will be] so small and the bureaucracy awful.”

In its submission to the LRUC consultation the RAC Foundation also says the government is considering the use of toll roads and this undermines the argument for introducing HGV charging.

But the Road Haulage Association's policy director, Jack Semple, says road charging and LRUC are “completely different subject issues”.

“While we increasingly discuss whether tolls should wholly or in part replace fuel duty as a tax we should get on with the more simple and low cost measure to try and level the playing field of UK and foreign trucks. I don’t see HGV charging in any way a barrier to what the government may or may not do in terms of charging for all vehicles. We give our very strong backing of it,” he adds.