Councillors are urging the Government to extend the grant for apprentice HGV drivers and encourage foreign HGV drivers to work in the UK by relaxing visa rules to ensure acute driver shortages can be addressed.
With the UK currently experiencing a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers across the economy, figures from the Road Haulers Association have shown that the top three reasons for the national shortage is Brexit, retirement and tighter enforcement the self-employment tax.
The HGV driver shortage has seen garden waste collection delays in York, whilst many councils across the country, including those who charge for this service in contrary to York, have been forced to suspend garden waste collections all together.
To address the immediate pressures, the Council has moved resource from less pressured services, shared drivers from Yorwaste and actively recruiting new drivers. However, Councillor Widdowson, writing to the Secretary of State for Transport, is urging Government to act to help support the recruitment of HGV drivers.
Councillor Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change, commented:
“Despite the amazing work of our frontline teams, the HGV staffing pressures have seen our local services impacted. In York we have done all we can to support the waste service but at the core of the issue are political decisions made by this Government that are making the situation worse.
“Whilst the pandemic has clearly made the national crisis worse, the Government should have been planning for this situation since the Brexit referendum when they were warned this would happen. With driver shortages now impacting not only on waste collections but also the food distribution chains, simple changes to visa rules and apprenticeships must be made urgently.
“It is time for the Government to recognise the scale of the crisis and act now.”