Thursday, February 24, 2022

Road Haulage Industry Lays Out Its Requirements for the Chancellor

Spring Statement Sets Out a Vision for Success
Shipping News Feature

UK – There is continuing concern within the road haulage community as the faults and problems in the industry persist. The combined impact of Brexit and the pandemic have left the supply chain to reveal the flaws and shortages in manpower, infrastructure, available vehicles and parts, coupled with spiralling wage and fuel costs.

Now the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which speaks exclusively for the sector, representing as it does the owners and operators of around 250,000 HGVs, that is half the nation’s fleet, has issued a Spring Statement in the lead up to the Chancellor’s own proclamation on 23 March, stating the requirements of its 8,500 members to get the industry back on track.

85% of those companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the backbone of UK surface transport, and the RHA says without help those firms, with fleets of no more than six vehicles, will suffer disproportionately and may see the delivery of vital supplies hugely damaged.

Some of the RHA demands will literally cost the economy nothing whilst other will require substantial investment from government, undoubtedly not what the Chancellor will want to hear. The RHA wishes for the fuel duty freeze to remain for another two years, as fuel prices rise so the Treasury reaps ever higher tax revenues so that should be an easy one.

Another set of requests are a one-year delay to the red diesel rule changes, with a phasing thereafter to account for the current economic circumstances plus an essential-user rebate for lorry and coach operations (this effectively brings fuel duty to German levels) for the next five years. The current HMRC overnight subsistence rate of £34.90 (£26.20 for those with sleeper cabs) should be rolled over followed by a review in 6 months to obtain a revised nightly rate that reflects current pricing and the option to purchase food rations weekly, rather than daily as now.

These really should not be a problem if the Chancellor actually has any idea whatsoever life is like on the road. However the other salient points the RHA makes are likely to cost more and therefore be less popular. Overnight parking facilities need to be upgraded with safety and security at a premium and suitable welfare facilities made available.

The Designated Funding provision in Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) for Lorry Parking on the Strategic Road Network must be ring fenced. All road improvement schemes need to include lorry facilities and parking provision from the outset. The RHA welcomes the £32.5 million announced in the Autumn Budget for upgrading driver facilities, however this still needs to be allocated to specific sites.

As to the driver shortage the RHA wants greater flexibility with the Apprenticeship Levy, something the sector contributed over £650 million to, yet drew down less than 10%, allowing businesses to buy training modules with their levy fund and the continuation of HGV skills boot camps, maintaining funding to this training scheme as an alternative to apprenticeships.

It will be interesting to see just how much of this the Chancellor takes on board next month.