To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take cross-departmental steps to ensure that restrictions on lorry drivers' working hours are not relaxed in response to recent shortages of HGV drivers potentially leading to food shortages on supermarket shelves; and what steps he is taking to increase (a) capacity for HGV driving tests and (b) training to help provide new HGV drivers who are resident in the UK.
5 July 2021
My Rt Hon Friend the Environment Secretary has discussed with the Secretary of State for Transport the logistical challenges for the food industry caused by a shortfall of HGV drivers. Defra officials are continuously gathering intelligence from food sector’s stakeholders to keep abreast of the impact of shortages on food supply.
Our officials are also working closely with counterparts in the Department for Transport who monitor any potential requirements to consider an extension of driver delivery hours under Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 to accommodate deliveries.
Our officials are continuously working closely across government on a diverse range of solutions to driver shortages in the short and long term. These include the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s increased capacity to test drivers to reach 3,000 practical tests each week and the Department for Education’s Large Goods Vehicle drivers apprenticeship programmes with an increased funding opportunity to £7,000 to improve UK labour supply.
Overall, the UK's food supply is highly resilient. The food industry is well versed in dealing with scenarios that can impact food supply. Consumers in the UK have access to a range of sources of food, including countless domestic food producers and imports from a range of stable sources.