Chancellor urged to support HGV driver jobs in budget and hold fuel duty at current levels

Added: 02 March 2021

Chancellor urged to support HGV driver jobs in budget and hold fuel duty at current levels

The logistics industry needs support in the 2021 Budget to ensure the continued health of the UK’s supply chain, according to business group Logistics UK.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP, the organisation has urged government to implement a series of measures to strengthen the resilience of businesses in the supply chain sector.

In addition to holding fuel duties at present levels and incentivising low carbon alternatives, the organising is urging the Chancellor to facilitate access to employment within the sector through interest free loans or grants to aid training. This would enable those seeking work to take advantage of opportunities in logistics, which is facing a shortage of skilled workers in operational roles such as HGV Drivers.

According to Logistics UK, the sector has been struggling to fill vacancies for some time — a shortage exacerbated by the loss of EU workers after Brexit. Members say they cannot find staff with the right skills, qualifications, and experience.

David Wells, Chief Executive of Logistics UK, commented: “The apprenticeships system is useful but cannot deliver at the scale or speed required and needs reform. And with HGV Driver training typically costing around £7,000 per person, grants or interest-free loans should be provided to train and reskill new employees, increasing the pool of available workers to fill the skills gaps in our sector.

“Logistics businesses are committed to driving the UK out of the economic slump caused by COVID-19, but to ensure the continued health of our industry, and the businesses we serve, it is imperative that Mr Sunak provides more support for skills in this year’s Budget. This will enable a healthy logistics sector to keep the UK’s businesses supplied as the economy builds back better.”

Wells stresses the importance of not increasing fuel duty in this Budget:

“Fuel duty is a direct cost to business: we estimate that a one penny increase per litre of fuel would add £470 per annum to the cost of running one truck. And with current limited availability of alternatively fuelled vehicles meaning diesel is the only option for the majority, this would be a direct tax on our industry as it commits to deliver for Britain.

“At a time when our industry is still reeling from the impact of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, increasing fuel duty would either reduce or eliminate business profit margins (already 2% or less in our sector) or be passed on to the customer, which in turn would increase the cost of doing business in the UK.”

Protect UK jobs

The organisation also says there is a need to protect UK jobs and creative expertise, calling for a revision of the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement.

Wells explained: “The UK has a global reputation for the delivery of tours for the performing arts, conferences and exhibitions, as well as for tv and film production.

“The current Trade and Co-operation Agreement reached with the EU, which allows for only two journeys within the EU, is incompatible with all business models where the load – whether stage sets and instruments, broadcasting, tv and film equipment, artworks or exhibition stands – needs to be moved to different successive locations across Europe. And it’s not just the logistics businesses and artists whose jobs are at risk. It’s also about the thousands of highly specialist support staff like engineers, technicians, producers, organisers, make-up artists, catering and other support crews that will be lost forever from the UK too.

“The current situation leaves logistics businesses no option but to move into the European Union so they can continue to operate. This will jeopardise not just jobs within the UK, but the country’s reputation and collateral for world-leading expertise in the creative arts.”

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