I fully recognise that this is a challenging time for road hauliers. I have been following the industry’s situation closely and listening carefully to the views of hauliers here in the constituency.
I know that my ministerial colleagues communicate with the road haulage industry regularly and have held additional meetings to communicate and engage with proposals that have been have brought forward, some of which centre on the recruitment of HGV drivers. In total, the Government has taken 33 proactive actions to address the shortage of HGV drivers worldwide, including streamlining the testing process, increasing the number of weekly HGV tests by 90 per cent. I am encouraged the Government has considered a range of options for supporting training, investing up to £34 million in skills bootcamps to train up to 11,000 more people. An additional 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally.
I have been informed that the number of tests available for HGV drivers in a normal week has doubled from 1,500 weekly appointments pre-Covid to 2,800 in a normal week.
The Government is also committed to increasing driver welfare. HGV drivers will also benefit from £20 million National Highways funding, to improve roadside facilities, as part of continued Government action with industry to boost driver welfare and tackle the effects of the global driver shortage in the UK. At the 2021 Autumn Budget, the then Chancellor announced £32.5 million for roadside facilities for HGV drivers on the road. A further £20 million was committed to improve roadside facilities in April 2022 and another £100 million of industry and Government investment in rest areas and roadside support in the form of the HGV parking and driver welfare scheme was announced in November 2022.
Funding applications to the HGV parking and driver welfare grant scheme can be made by operators of independent truck stops, motorway service areas, trunk road service areas, local authority truck stops. The sites in question must be located on, or near to, the strategic road network in England. Applications for funding from the HGV parking and driver welfare grant scheme can be made via: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hgv-parking-and-driver-welfare-grant-scheme-guidance-for-applicants/hgv-parking-and-driver-welfare-grant-scheme-guidance-and-application-form#how-to-apply
As far as I am aware, the Government does not currently plan to introduce a user rebate for hauliers. I will communicate the comments raised to colleagues to ensure they are aware of feeling on this matter.
Further information on the measures and exemptions is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reform-of-red-diesel-entitlements/reform-of-red-diesel-and-other-rebated-fuels-entitlement