HGV shortages: 'We took our eye off the ball' says Drennan
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In a letter sent to registered German residents by the Department for Transport, and signed by Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, the letter requests that the receivers ‘consider returning’ to the HGV driving sector. The letter states: “Your valuable skills and experience have never been more needed than they are now”.
Allowing the holders of licenses issued before 1999 to drive trucks up to 7.5 tonnes, the letter went into more detail about the benefits of reconsidering.
“There are fantastic HGV driving opportunities in the logistics industry and conditions of employment have been improving across the sector.
“As well as attractive pay rates, we are seeing more options for flexible working, fixed hours, fixed days, full time and part time.”
It is believed that all Germans living in the UK with a older licence have been sent the letter, yet almost none of them have ever driven a HGV vehicle before.
One resident, speaking to the Independent said he received two copies of the letter, one for himself, and the other for his wife.
“We were quite surprised. I’m sure pay and conditions for HGV drivers have improved, but ultimately I have decided to carry on in my role at an investment bank.
“My wife has never driven anything larger than a Volvo, so she is also intending to decline the exciting opportunity,” said the German resident.
Speaking of remaining in the UK after Brexit, he concluded: “It is nice to know there are specialist jobs available here for us though after Brexit. We would never have been headhunted to drive a lorry if we’d gone back to Germany.”
The letter has also been sent out to ambulance drivers and paramedics to come and drive HGV lorries.
Claiming a glitch in the software that wrote the letters, the Department of Transport said it could not filter out who the letter would be sent to, amongst worries that Ambulance drivers are already under-staffed and under-pressure across the nation.
A DfT spokesperson said: “The letter was automatically sent to almost one million people with HGV driving licenses, and it was impossible to narrow the copy-list by profession due to personal data protection.”
The UK Government has vehemently denied that the shortage of HGV drivers is as a direct result of Brexit.
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Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told BBC Radio 4: “The difficulties we are facing are not unique to this country.
“The idea that this is somehow just a British problem is fundamentally wrong. There’s a shortage of 400,000 HGV drivers across Europe.”
Poland is believed to be short of around 124,000 of those drivers, whilst Germany is believed to be up to 65,000 short of the mark,
Mr Clarke confirmed the situation: “The idea that this is about Brexit is to try and take us back into what is really, I’m afraid, quite negative conversation around opportunities forgone, when, if you look at the situation in Germany, if you look at the situation in Poland, if you look at the situation in France, they share these problems too.”
However, no similar consequences seen at fuel pumps around the UK have been reported in any other European nation.
It is also understood that the German government have yet to address the issue in their own country by writing to citizens in similar means.
With the UK looking to recruit up to 100,000 drivers, some employment offers have provided packages of up to £72,000 per year.
An emergency plan to offer up to 5,000 emergency visas to EU HGV drivers has so far been snubbed by many on the continent, and many current drivers in the UK have complained about the squalid conditions in the rest areas and service stations across the highways network.
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