- £20 million allocated to improve security, lighting and shower rooms at roadside services for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers
- adds to package of government measures to tackle effects of the global driver shortage in UK
- aims to improve working conditions and retain HGV drivers, backed by overall £52.5 million investment in driver facilities
Roadside service operators are being encouraged to apply immediately to a multimillion-pound fund for improving facilities for HGV drivers, announced today (April 14).
The £20 million fund aims to boost driver welfare and tackle the effects of the global driver shortage in the UK. It is part of National Highways’ existing £169 million Users and Communities Fund, and will go specifically towards improving security, showers and eating facilities as well as exploring increasing parking spaces for lorry drivers.
The funding takes the total government investment in driver facilities to £52.5 million since last year - £32.5 million was previously committed in the Chancellor’s budget to provide better facilities right across the country for HGV drivers, to drive up standards and further safeguard driver comfort and safety.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “HGV drivers play a key role in keeping our nation running and contributing to the economy, and it is vital they feel safe and comfortable wherever they stop.
“That’s why we’re allocating £20 million to ramp up security and improve amenities for drivers – building on the raft of measures we’ve already taken to support the industry.
”We’ll continue to work closely with the sector to boost professional driver numbers even further.”
Nick Harris, National Highways chief executive, said: ”We want all road users to reach their destination safely and encourage everyone, from those who drive as a profession through to people traveling on holiday or for leisure purposes, to plan ahead before setting off and to take regular breaks.
”We are dedicated to improving the experience of everyone using our roads and remain committed to working closely with operators of roadside facilities to help improve the standard of parking and other amenities they provide on motorways and major A-roads. We are hopeful that the £20 million being announced today will go some way towards achieving this goal.”
A Logistics UK Skills Report 2021 revealed the steps taken by both government and industry to help address recruitment issues that have plagued the sector for years.
Among other measures already taken to support the haulage industry:
- £34 million was invested by government to create new HGV Skills Bootcamps to train just over 11,000 more people to become HGV drivers in England;
- the number of HGV driving tests available increased by 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels through measures including overtime and allocating additional employees into testing;
- the processing of provisional HGV driving licences was prioritised at the DVLA;
- plans were set out to widen the pool of registered healthcare professionals authorised to complete DVLA medical questionnaires, reducing administrative burdens on general practitioners.
Thanks to the measures taken, over the past six months DVLA processed more than 240,000 vocational (bus and lorry) licence applications, and in December 2021 they issued 150% more provisional vocational driving licences (14,210 in total) than in the equivalent pre-pandemic month in December 2019.
There are also no delays in the processing of vocational driving licences, with routine applications being processed within normal turnaround times of 5 working days.
Meanwhile, DVSA carried out an unprecedented 27,144 HGV driving tests between October and December last year compared to the same period in 2019 when 17,685 HGV tests were carried out.
Ken McMeikan, CEO of Moto hospitality said: ”This announcement is a welcome boost for the UK’s hardworking HGV drivers and the sector. It is encouraging to see that the input provided by Moto and other industry figures have been acknowledged and acted upon by the Department for Transport.
”Moto continually invests in refurbishing and cleaning the services we provide for HGV drivers and has been investing £12.5 million in upgrading all our showers and toilet facilities.
”We look forward to making an application to this £20 million fund, which would allow us to accelerate our plans for enhanced security and increase the physical number of showers we can offer.”
Mags Simpson, Logistics UK’s Head of Policy Engagement: ”The announcement of an additional £20 million to boost HGV driver facilities is a positive step forward for industry, and Logistics UK is now calling on roadside service operators to urgently apply for funding.”
Logistics UK members have previously cited the lack of available lorry parking and suitable roadside facilities as one of the main barriers to recruitment and as a result, an increase in funding for this vital sector of the economy is much welcomed news. Lorry drivers are required by law to take regular rest periods, including overnight mandated rest breaks.
It is vital that these key workers, who are charged with keeping the nation stocked with all its required goods, have a safe place to take these breaks, where they are also able to make use of much needed bathroom and catering facilities.