Transport Committee has called for HGV driver facility standards to improve © Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP via GettyImages
Transport Committee has called for HGV driver facility standards to improve © Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP via GettyImages

Supply Chain Levy a must to avoid 'sleepwalking into another crisis'

3 October 2022

MPs have doubled down on demands for a Supply Chain Levy to avoid the UK “sleepwalking into another supply chain crisis”.

The Transport Committee called for a levy in June but the government has decided not to adopt it, saying: “Regarding the suggested levy, taxes are a matter for HM Treasury and all taxes are kept under review.

“The government has already taken extensive action to improve standards and resilience in the supply chain, most notably the 33 measures that have been implemented to tackle the HGV driver shortage.”

The committee is calling on government to introduce a levy on haulage companies, retailers and oil companies if HGV driver facility standards are not improved within two years. 

“These organisations currently make large profits which do not trickle further down the supply chain to the companies which transport the goods. As a result, hauliers and ferry operators are posting operating losses and therefore cannot afford to increase the pay and welfare standards of those they employ,” the committee said in the Road Freight Supply Chain report.

“The Supply Chain Levy would require the parts of the supply chain where margins are greatest to deliver improved standards and the resilience to the supply chain which they themselves require to ensure their shelves, warehouses and petrol pumps are full.”

Following the Covid pandemic it was estimated the UK has a shortage of up to 100,000 drivers, leading to warnings of food shortages as supermarkets struggled to get the drivers to transport goods.

The government said current measures are “abating” and “stabilising” shortages and “the private sector is best placed to deliver new capacity and high-quality facilities for drivers”.

Huw Merriman (Con), chair of the Transport Committee, called the government’s response “disappointing” and urged the government to “rewrite” its response. 

Merriman said: “Without a new approach, the government risks sleepwalking into another supply chain crisis. We have watched a sector struggling with recruitment and retention. Drivers are retiring and not enough is being done to recruit a younger and more diverse workforce.”

He continued: “Only a radical overhaul, with government taking the shackles off planning restraints and incentivising industry to invest, will see more people consider HGV driving as a good career.”

The inquiry found the shortage has resulted from poor driver facilities, working conditions, a lack of funded training as well as Brexit and the pandemic.

Merriman said: “It’s time to shift the bill to those who make the largest profits. A failure to invest in their own supply chain should lead to a financial levy on companies at the start and end of this chain. These companies, from oil producers to retail and online giants, make billions in profits but fail to invest in improvements for the drivers who deliver their profits. 

“The government needs to reduce red tape to incentivise new facilities to be built faster. If the industry will not then build, and invest in the resilience which drivers need, then the government should do it for them and send them the bill.”

Pointing to the recent mini budget, Merriman said the committee hoped plans to accelerate infrastructure delivery would see money committed to improved HGV facilities and service stations.

The government said it is gathering evidence on HGV parking and facilities in England and commissioned a National Lorry Parking Survey to understand where improvements are most needed.

It said: “Our actions are supporting the industry and helping our supply chains deliver.”

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