PMQs: UK Government must improve HGV drivers’ working conditions – Ben Lake MP
Prime Minister ‘disconnected from the real world’ says former HGV driver
In today’s PMQs, Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, Ben Lake, told Boris Johnson that a “long-term solution” to the supply chain crisis requires “improved working conditions” and “measures to reduce waiting times at distribution centres.”
Mr Lake referenced the Department for Transport’s ‘National survey of lorry parking’ from 2018, which identified that there is an immediate need for more than 1,411 parking spaces across England, to enable drivers to take their legally mandated rest breaks without concerns for security and safety.
Waiting times also contribute to HGV drivers’ poor working conditions. The 2021 Post-Brexit Hauliers Survey showed that increased waiting times at the border was the biggest impact cited by respondents (81%), followed by increased time spent on admin (69%).
In the House of Commons, Ben Lake said:
“With widespread concern about the HGV driver crisis, I have been contacted by a number of drivers from Ceredigion who believe the government’s decision to increase drivers’ hours will fail to solve the problem.
“They're clear that a long-term solution requires improved working conditions, acting on the 2018 Government report on parking spaces and drivers' facilities, and also measures to reduce waiting times at distribution centres.
“Will the Prime Minister consider these measures and to what timescale is his Government working to fix the crisis?”
Responding, the Prime Minister said that HGV driving is a “great and well-remunerated profession” and that the Government are “ramping up vocational test capacity and funding apprenticeships”.
However, Luke Vernon, a former HGV driver from Ceredigion rebuffed the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the profession is “great and well-remunerated”, and said that Mr Johnson was “disconnected from the real world”. He added that working conditions must be improved if the Government wants to find new drivers.
Luke Vernon said:
“The Prime Minister’s suggestion that “HGV driving is a great and well-remunerated profession” shows that he knows nothing about the industry or is burying his head in the sand. What hope do we have of changing things when we’ve a Prime Minister so disconnected from the real world?
“Much of the shortage is because many jobs really aren't ‘well-remunerated’ at all, and even more are far from ‘great’.
“Training is needed to start attracting young people into the profession, of course, but training won’t solve anything here and now. The fact is, we have tens of thousands of drivers who no longer drive for a living precisely because it’s not great or well-remunerated. Money, working conditions, attitude. The three things at the root of this issue.”