UK govt under intense pressure to create short-term working visa scheme for foreign lorry drivers
Saturday 28 August 2021 8:04 AM UTC
LONDON Aug 28: The UK government is under intense pressure to create a short-term working visa scheme for foreign lorry drivers has explored ways to solve the shortage of haulage workers, the BBC reports.
The Covid pandemic and Brexit has left transport firms desperate to recruit drivers and government departments have been in discussion options with the industry, including introducing special visas.
However, the Home Office has not yet announced any plans to introduce visas for drivers.
The industry wants drivers to be added to the official UK Shortage Occupations list, enabling them to qualify for a skilled worker visa. But the government wants the industry to employ British drivers, which the industry said is impossible in the short term due to the training costs and time it takes to pass the rigorous HGV (heavy goods vehicle) driving test in the UK.
Training a HGV driver typically taking six to nine months and costs up to £7,000. Many British drivers claim that the low pay and poor working conditions are deterring people from entering the sector.
Businesses warn that the shortage of drivers is jeopardising deliveries to retailers and pushing up food prices for consumers. The sector is also reeling from the impact of the pandemic, which has prevented thousands of new drivers from taking their HGV tests last year.
European drivers returned home when work dried up last year and have not been able to return because of immigration rules brought in after Brexit.
Thousands of EU migrants failed to apply for UK settlement despite efforts by the Home Office to promote a low-cost easy route during the two year run up to Brexit.
The Road Haulage Association estimates that there is currently a shortfall of about 60,000 hauliers and said that the situation for food supplies was “close to a crisis point”. There was a risk that some items would run out in supermarkets at certain times in a way similar to “rolling blackouts” for electricity, it said.
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