A letter has been sent to the Secretary of State, Priti Patel, regarding the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver shortages facing the recycling and waste management sector.
The letter is co-signed by organisations and companies from across the waste and resource sector, which expresses their concerns about a ‘structural deficit’ of trained HGV drivers emerging across the recycling and waste management sector.
The letter states this is not only impacting essential services but could also risk ‘undermining’ the UK’s green economic recovery in the future.
The letter estimates that the UK is currently experiencing a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers across the economy which is ‘very much being felt by our sector’, it says.
It says, in the longer term, this may even hinder the sector’s ability to deliver upon the Government’s resource-efficiency and environmental ambitions.
The letter states that members of the Environmental Services Association – the trade body representing the UK’s resource and waste management industry – are currently reporting an average of fifteen per cent vacancy rates for driving roles and it is proving ‘very challenging’ to fill this resourcing gap given the ‘dynamics’ of this labour market.
It says more immediate relief is urgently needed for this acute situation.
‘Important shortage occupation’
It also says that signatories fear government’s attempts to address short-term resourcing pressures through relaxations to driver hours rules could have negative health and safety implications.
The letter therefore calls for government to recognise HGV drivers as an ‘important shortage occupation’ with a two-year derogation to the points-based immigration rules for trained HGV drivers.
The letter states this would allow the sector, as well as others across the economy, ‘sufficient access to a wider pool of drivers while we recruit and train the next generation of domestic drivers’.
‘This approach would prevent our sector from falling off a cliff-edge of driver shortages and will ensure that we can continue to keep the wheels turning on essential services – protecting the environment and public health while supporting the UK’s green recovery,” the letter states.
Signatories of the letter include the Environmental Services Association, CIWM, the Renewable Energy Association, the Recycling Association and waste management firms Biffa, Suez, FCC, Viridor and Veolia.