Driver shortage: Temporary visa applications failing to plug the gap

Lorry driver in cab

Government efforts to recruit more lorry drivers from abroad are having limited success, with just 127 having applied for emergency visas.

The Government announced a raft of measures on Monday, September 27, in an effort to plug the shortfall in HGV drivers, estimated by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) to be around 100,000.

It followed changes to the HGV driving test, which aim to make it easier for the industry to recruit new drivers.

However, after concerns around fuel deliveries to petrol stations resulted in panic buying and closed forecourts, the Government was forced to act again to help alleviate the HGV driver crisis by extending the temporary visa scheme.

Originally, the Department for Transport (DfT) said that 5,000 HGV drivers would be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry. 

Recruitment for additional short-term HGV drivers would begin later this month and the visas would be valid until December 24.

Now, temporary visas have been made available to 300 overseas fuel drivers "immediately" to help with deliveries to petrol stations. 

Under the bespoke scheme, those foreign drivers will be able to work in the UK from now until the end of March and 4,700 visas intended for foreign food haulage drivers will now be extended by two months, lasting from late October to the end of February.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning (Tuesday, October 5), the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that we must not go back to “the old, failed model where you mainline low-wage, low-skilled labour”.

That, he explained, had led to a situation where there was not investment in the industry and “people had to urinate in bushes’ because of the lack of facilities for drivers”.

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