Last reviewed 9 July 2021

The Department for Transport (DfT) has introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales, with effect from 12:01am on 12 July until 11:59pm on 8 August 2021, subject to review.

With full details available - here, the DfT said it was responding to pressures on local and national supply chains. However, the move has not been well received by industry groups which have been warning the Government for some time that the sector was facing huge problems because of a growing shortage of drivers.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has described the move as a sticking plaster and said it fails to address the underlying issues which require a package of measures to fix.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, said: “We oppose wholesale extensions to drivers’ hours as we believe they can be counter-productive by making the job less attractive. Loading more hours on to drivers that are already exhausted is not the answer.”

His views were echoed by Logistics UK’s Head of Road Freight Regulation Policy, James Firth, who said that the announcement will heap more pressure on drivers who are already stretched to the limit.

“Throughout the pandemic,” he went on, “the UK’s professional drivers have kept our shops, homes and businesses supplied with everything needed to keep the economy going, but the current workforce cannot be expected to fill the gaps created by the current skills shortage.”

The industry needs a longer-term solution to the recruitment of drivers, including temporary visas for EU workers to cover the gaps while new recruits can be trained, and interest free loans for those wishing to enter the market, Mr Firth argued.

He insisted that what is does not need is a stop-gap measure that will heap more pressure on existing workers.