UK government action to reduce the HGV driver shortage

Find out about the 33 actions the UK government is taking to deal with the shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers in the UK.

Why there’s a shortage of HGV drivers

The shortage of HGV drivers has been caused by a range of factors including:

  • HGV driving tests not taking place because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • the economic bounce-back from COVID-19
  • an ageing workforce and a lack of diversity in the industry
  • a reliance on overseas labour with a lack of long-term investment in the UK domestic workforce

Increasing efficiency in existing supply chains

  1. We relaxed drivers’ hours rules from 12 July 2021 to 10 February 2022. This allowed short-term extra flexibility for the industry.

  2. We relaxed the restrictions on late-night deliveries to supermarkets, food retailers, and distribution centres in England, providing greater operational flexibility until September 2022.

  3. We added 4,700 HGV drivers to the existing visa scheme to help food industries with driver shortages during exceptional circumstances. We allowed up to 300 extra fuel drivers to come to the UK between 1 October and 15 October 2021 - they could work in the UK until 31 March 2022.

  4. We extended cabotage rights for foreign hauliers in the UK to 30 April 2022 to make their trips more efficient.

  5. We added £500,000 more to the existing £20 million Mode Shift Revenue Support grant scheme for 2021 to 2022. This was to enable 29,000 more lorry loads of goods off the roads and onto railways or inland waterways by the end of March 2022.

Providing support and training for new HGV drivers

  1. We invested £34 million to create new HGV Skills Bootcamps to train just over 11,000 more people to become HGV drivers in England.

  2. We launched the new Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeships on 1 August 2021, which provides up to £7,000 of funding for training.

  3. We gave an incentive payment of £3,000 to employers who employed an apprentice before 31 January 2022.

  4. We launched the new Urban Driver apprenticeship for lorries (category C vehicles) which provides up to £5,000 of funding for training.

  5. We provided extra funding for both medical and HGV licences for any adult who completes a vocational qualification in HGV driving accessed through the adult education budget in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

  6. We expanded the Department for Work and Pension’s driver training pilot delivered through Jobcentre Plus to bring jobseekers into the industry.

  7. We provided grant funding to Road to Logistics (a national, not for profit, logistics training organisation) which is working with the Welsh Government and HM Prison and Probation Service to train ex-offenders to drive lorries as well as supporting the Jobcentre Plus pilot.

  8. We provided grant funding to Think Logistics which, with Career Ready, is working to attract young people to the profession.

Expanding HGV driver testing capacity and improving licencing processes

  1. We increased the number of HGV driving tests by 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels through measures including overtime and allocating additional employees into testing, alongside the recently introduced capacity from Ministry of Defence (MOD) driving examiners.

  2. We changed the law about towing a trailer with a car, the staging of HGV tests, and who can test the off-road exercises to increase the number of HGV tests.

  3. We launched a campaign to recruit 40 new HGV and bus driving examiners on 16 August 2021.

  4. We deployed MOD driving examiners to carry out civilian HGV driving tests with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency until the end of 2021.

  5. We introduced new legislation to allow delegated driving examiners at the 3 emergency services and the MOD to be able to carry out driving tests for one another.

  6. We prioritised processing of provisional HGV driving licences at DVLA, which has reduced processing times to about 5 working days. Most drivers applying to renew their HGV licence can continue driving while their application is being processed.

  7. We announced measures to make it easier for former armed forces personnel to qualify as HGV drivers.

  8. We changed the law on 20 July 2022 to allow healthcare professionals other than doctors to complete DVLA medical questionnaires following notification of a medical condition that may affect an individual’s driving, reducing administrative burdens on GPs.

Attracting drivers back to the sector and improving conditions

  1. We encouraged existing HGV licence holders not driving professionally to consider returning to HGV driving.

  2. We supported industry-led communications efforts to promote and improve the image of the sector, including an industry-led proposal for a Year of Logistics, the promotion of good practice and an International Road Transport Union’s driver charter.

  3. We launched a review of HGV parking and facilities. This includes working with our partners to identify and deliver a number of temporary sites where short-term modular facilities can be installed. We’re also encouraging National Highways to consider how their land holdings can be used to provide additional parking spaces nationwide, and helping local councils to identify areas where HGV parking is needed.

  4. We’re investing £32.5 million in roadside facilities for HGV drivers, such as showers, toilets and eating areas.

  5. We provided flexible support funding for jobseekers and those on Universal Credit who have an HGV licence towards the costs of getting their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification, which is needed to drive an HGV for a living.

  6. We launched a review to look at ways to streamline compulsory ongoing training requirements under the Driver CPC scheme. This is to make sure it does not act as a barrier for those joining or returning to the sector, whilst also maintaining road safety standards.

  7. We allocated £20 million from National Highways’ existing Users and Communities Fund to improve security, lighting and shower rooms at roadside services for HGV drivers.

Ensuring the stability of the fuel supply chain

  1. We extended dangerous goods (ADR) driver qualifications until 31 January 2022 if they were due to run out between 27 September 2021 and 31 December 2021. This provided immediate relief to the shortage of fuel drivers by allowing drivers to maximise their available capacity, instead of being taken off the road to take refresher training now.

  2. We’ve encouraged dangerous goods driver training providers to increase their capacity to provide the full initial ADR driver training courses.

  3. We’ve mobilised military tanker drivers to help make fuel deliveries.

Economic measures to support the haulage industry

  1. We froze vehicle excise duty for HGVs until 2023.

  2. We suspended the HGV road user levy until August 2023.