The government has announced a new scheme to improve the working conditions of HGV drivers, including a financial boost to help modernise roadside facilities.
The new HGV parking and driver welfare scheme will be worth up to £100 million and offers matched funding to industry operators that invest in HGV driver facilities.
As the industry desperately seeks to attract new drivers, it is being forced to address some of the long-running concerns that long-distance drivers, in particular, have with poor-quality roadside facilities.
The new fund will offer £52.5 million of financial support directly from public funds, matched with equal private investment. The investment forms part of a broader 33-step action plan designed by the government to boost HGV driver welfare, which includes vital access to safe and adequate parking and rest facilities.
The intention is that this strategy will directly improve driver conditions to a point where recruitment across the industry improves and the national shortage of drivers is relieved.
The fund was announced by Richard Holden, the Roads Minister, who explained that operators of road service and truck stop services will be able to bid for a share of the pot as of 24th November. This fund is in addition to the existing £20 million matched fund that was announced earlier in the year by the National Highways to boost lorry driver security and facilities.
The funding announcement was announced at Northamptonshire’s Red Lion Truckstop, which has recently been developed to offer better security and welfare facilities such as driver restaurants, rest areas and showers, and more HGV parking.
Richard Holden said that drivers and hauliers were essential to keeping the economy moving, but that truckers had received a poor deal for decades when it came to their facilities. He added that he was ‘proud’ the government was supporting the industry with matched funding to boost welfare and driver safety, to ensure that HGV driving was a genuinely attractive option for a career.
The new funding scheme will support the first part of the National Survey on Lorry Parking, which evidenced the vital improvements needed to develop the UK’s roadside amenities and services. Key areas identified as a turn-off to potential new recruits included driver security, welfare and safeguarding.
Hauliers and drivers are obliged to take regular breaks and periods of rest, but many are currently forced to do so in sub-standard roadside areas without adequate parking and facilities. With better facilities, driver and road safety will be improved, along with driver satisfaction.
Other actions flagged up for development include:
– Developing Skills Bootcamps to unlock 11,000 new training places for HGV drivers
– Boosting access to driver tests
– Launching the new Future of Freight campaign to encourage millions of UK workers to consider a new career in logistics.
The number of drivers taking and passing their HGV tests is already up by 54% compared to 2019 figures, before the pandemic. And now, with this new strategy, the hope is that the UK’s broader industries will be supported by a growing logistics and freight industry that can support their delivery needs.