The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed news that ministers have agreed to increase the funding limit for Large Goods Vehicles apprenticeships.
Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson has confirmed that funding for C+E apprenticeships will increase to £7,000 from 1 July.
Ministers intervened after the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) had previously set a new level at £6,000 which was rejected by The Trailblazer Group for Transport and Logistics who help develop apprenticeship standards.
RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said: “We’ve worked tirelessly over the last year to unblock this problem and we’re pleased that the Government has listened. But this is only one element to help tackle the growing driver shortage crisis.
“This move will support firms to recruit and train new drivers in the long term, but the industry needs immediate help as the demand for goods increases as lockdown restrictions are lifted.”
He said manufacturers and retailers need to understand that the cost of distribution will increase as pay rates will have to go up.
The RHA has called on the Government to put HGV drivers on the Home Office Shortage Occupation List to allow firms to recruit drivers from overseas in the short term.
Driver shortages exacerbated by IR35 tax changes
The UK’s shortage in drivers was made worse by the introduction of IR35 tax changes. The Covid-19 pandemic saw the introduction of IR35 delayed by one year, but it is now hitting many drivers and haulage firms.
RHA believes that if voice of the industry isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption. This will impact the ability of many businesses to recover from the pandemic. According to the RHA, “Time is tight, and action now is critically important.”