The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will attempt to fast track drivers into the haulage industry by accelerating testing amid chronic shortages which have caused supply problems.
But MPA member companies, who transport the by far biggest volume of materials in the UK economy – aggregates, concrete, cement, asphalt and industrial minerals – are concerned that demand from other sectors in the run-up to Christmas will hit the mineral products industry even harder, so more needs to be done to tackle the issue.
Last month MPA supported the Government’s proposal to allow HGV drivers to take a single test to drive both ‘rigid’ and ‘articulated’ lorries, rather than having to pass a test in a rigid lorry first and then another for an articulated lorry. The proposal is seen by the MPA as a sensible measure to get through the testing backlog faster, provided that road safety is not compromised.
However, MPA says that fast-tracking HGV tests is nowhere near enough to address the immediate crisis, even if delivered as planned, let alone the longer-term underlying issues that have resulted in estimated driver shortages of 90,000 (according to Logistics UK) and 100,000 (according to the Road Haulage Association).
Robert McIlveen, Director of Public Affairs at MPA, said: “Our members have been telling us for some time that they are facing a real challenge recruiting and training enough drivers, with many being poached by other sectors once they become qualified. The deliveries that drivers make in our sector keep construction and other essential manufacturing industries going, and if not solved could come to a serious crunch point later this year.
“With the increase in demand for drivers accelerated by more home deliveries plus the reduction of drivers from EU member states, this announcement from Government is a helpful tweak, but it is not a comprehensive solution. Much more must be done, including relaxing vias rules for drivers from the EU or beyond in the short term, and longer term supporting HGV driver training through the apprenticeship levy as well as increasing testing capacity.”
About the Mineral Products Association:
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the merger of British Precast, and affiliation of the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, it has a growing membership of 520 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement and lime production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2018, the industry supplied £16 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £172 billion in 2018. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors.
For media enquiries, contact Elizabeth Clements at: Elizabeth.Clements@mineralproducts.org; tel: 07775 894 285