UK Government to create temporary visas for HGV drivers

visas HGV drivers, HGV drivers
© Christian Lagereek

The UK Government have proposed expire-at-Christmas visas for 5,000 HGV drivers – weeks after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps spoke against “using foreign labour” in the haulage industry

Currently, a petrol crisis is waiting in the wings – petrol stations across the UK are down to 20% fuel capacity. The HGV driver issue means that there are not enough drivers to haul products like fuel from Europe to the UK.

In August, 2021, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I do not support using foreign labour to tackle a long-standing issue in the haulage industry.”

In the same letter to Labour MPs, he admitted that the freight industry faces “historic shortages” – but said that the industry should depend on the UK workforce.

“I do not support using foreign labour to tackle a long-standing issue in the haulage industry.”

According to some sources, the UK is considering troop deployment to manage the brewing fuel shortage. For now, the UK Government has announced a small raft of measures, including the creation of 5,000 temporary visas for foreign labourers – the workforce that was formerly locked out of jobs in the UK, post-Brexit. A further 5,500 temporary visas will be given to poultry workers to handle food demands in the same time period.

All of these visas would expire for Christmas, 2021.

The Times reports that these visas would not be given out for several weeks, according to Cabinet sources. The paper further reports that since the shortages are EU-wide – the UK may not successfully draw enough HGV drivers with temporary visas.

Will this work?

Marco Digioia, the General Secretary of European Road Hauliers Association, said to inews: “I expect many drivers will not return to the UK even if the UK Government allows them to.

“While offering visas to drivers on the continent would be a welcome step, there are many other issues, such as working conditions, pay, and the costs of getting into and working in the UK.”

The UK Government will also train 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers, until they earn their licenses. However, trade association Logistics UK finds that a further 90,000 HGV drivers are needed, to stop the delay and potential fractures in all supply chains.


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