UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) says it is “extremely disappointed” the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) has not addressed the what it describes as an urgent need to fund GBP150m (US$226m) of truck driver training.

“Our industry is suffering a chronic shortage of 45,000-50,000 drivers,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “This is jeopardising supply chains and threatens to put the brakes on the economic recovery. This crisis will only get worse as 1 in 5 of the current HGV workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 years.

“We are doubly disappointed as we have figures that clearly show the GBP150m would be more than recouped through taxes paid by the new drivers. The new driving jobs created by this funding would generate additional income tax, National Insurance, and up to an extra GBP275m in fuel duty revenue due to the extra truck miles driven.

“In addition, the extra investment in UK skills would reduce the industry’s reliance on drivers from abroad, which the RHA estimates leads to approximately GBP180m per annum being sent back to drivers’ home countries. This is money that would otherwise be spent in the UK, supporting employment, generating VAT and boosting UK growth.”

Despite the RHA’s claim no funding is to be made available “today,” it insists it will continue to press its case and step up lobbying.

In addition, the RHA notes confirmation of an apprenticeship levy rate of 0.5%. “At present, this industry has no apprenticeship for lorry drivers, the main employment category for transport firms,” added Burnett.

“It is essential that we get a driver apprenticeship, otherwise the levy is simply a tax on payroll. An apprenticeship without funding for the core element of training ahead of the HGV driving test would be largely meaningless.”