Following the annoucement from Grant Shapps MP that that HGV drivers’ hours will be temporarily extended from Monday, the FWD has called it a big win for the wholesale channel, citing the fact there was initially no support when the association proposed this solution.
“We’re aware of a shortage of HGV drivers, so I’m announcing a temp extension of drivers’ hours rules from Mon 12 July, giving flexibility to drivers & operators to make slightly longer journeys. We’ve ramped up the number of driving tests available & will consider other measures,” announced Shapps on his Twitter account.
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“This is just what food distributors needed – an immediate and obvious solution to what could have been a catastrophic supply chain failure,” said FWD chief executive James Bielby. “The flexibility in drivers’ hours means those out-of-the-way shops, pubs and restaurants will get the stock they need for the big re-opening on Freedom Day, and will allow wholesalers to do as much as 15% more deliveries each day. Provided it remains in place into the autumn, it will avert possible school closures in September and shortages in the shops in the run up to Christmas.”
“The safety of drivers and other road users will be top of mind when wholesalers decide where and when to use the extension. While it’s the perfect solution to avert disaster, we recognize it is a stop-gap measure and Government and the haulage industry need to work very hard on longer-term solutions, such as raising the profile, pay and conditions of the HGV driver role and incentivising younger people to take up the occupation,” he added.
Bielby also went onto explain that the FWD was the first organisation to call for this, and are the only trade association to have been consistently lobbying Government for a temporary extension of hours to allow wholesalers to serve independent retailers in rural and vulnerable communities. We faced huge opposition from the haulage lobby, unions and a sceptical Government.
“We would like to thank DfT Ministers for listening to the howls coming from wholesalers and recognising the scale of the impending disaster. The wholesale sector has been heard, and despite strong initial opposition, we have achieved the best result for distributors, their customers, and the UK economy,” Bielby added.