Logistics UK: MPs’ report ‘ignores public policy failures’

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Wednesday 1 June 2022

Logistics UK has said that a new report published today by the House of Commons transport select committee has unfairly attempted to blame the road transport industry for supply chain problems leading to food and other shortages.

The report, which is available here, addresses a number of issues affecting the road freight sector including driver availability, retention and recruitment, and infrastructure.

It makes several recommendations to government including that Driver CPC should be funded by employers rather than drivers themselves, and that a “binding code of conduct” should set minimum standards for the treatment of drivers by employers and other businesses.

Among other recommendations made by the MPs were regional targets for additional truck parking capacity, backed by a joint government/industry taskforce, and a reform of national planning policy to ensure more driver facilities are delivered.

But Logistics UK said the report had unjustly placed blame for supply issues at the industry’s door.

“Logistics workers are the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping shops, schools, hospitals and locked-down families supplied with all the goods and medicines the country needed,” said David Wells OBE, chief executive at Logistics UK.

“To place all the blame for the supply chain issues facing our industry at our door does our workers a great disservice, and totally ignores the role which the government and other agencies have played in creating staff recruitment and retention problems across the sector.”

He observed that, despite operating on very narrow margins often of less than one per cent, the sector had already made significant investment in the next generation of workers through the apprenticeship levy, having paid in £700 million.

“However, due to a lack of appropriate qualifications for the sector, which did not even exist until 2021, only £150 million has been able to be drawn down thus far, representing a tax on our sector and a huge, missed opportunity for recruitment,” said Mr Wells.

He added that it was a “national disgrace” that HGV drivers were still unable to access safe and secure truck stop facilities, despite having “worked so tirelessly” to protect supply chains during the Covid pandemic – with many forced to take legally required breaks at roadsides.

“It is not the industry’s responsibility to build and run these facilities, not least because they are commercial enterprises, many of which cater for all road users and not just the haulage sector,” he continued.

“The real problem that has not been resolved is local authority planning rules and red tape that prevent these facilities being built in the first place. To suggest that these new builds, which are used by all road users, could be constructed as a result of a levy on hauliers would place an unfair, disproportionate burden on the industry.”

Mr Wells added that the report’s overview of the sector’s issues with recruitment was “confused and misleading”.

“Like nearly every other industry in the UK, logistics is facing issues caused by a combination of factors, none of which are within its control,” he said.

“These include an ageing workforce, the loss of European workers after Brexit and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on testing of new HGV drivers.

“The industry has already come together to create and fund a massive skills and recruitment campaign, aimed at young people, women and other under-represented groups, to attract new talent into the sector. The government is aware of this and has committed to supporting the industry’s efforts.”

He concluded: “It’s disappointing that the committee has taken so long to reach the wrong conclusions and not address the real public policy issues needing urgent attention.”