The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said that it is “shocked and disappointed” by the Government proposal to allow foreign haulage companies to undertake unlimited work in the UK in two-week blocks.
The RHA press release continues: “Cabotage allows non-UK haulage companies to work in the UK while being based outside the UK. The companies and employees will pay no tax in the UK. This is not about drivers from outside the UK working for UK companies – this proposal outsources the whole haulage activity – tax, safety regulation, national insurance obligations are all controlled outside the UK when cabotage is unfettered in the way proposed by Government.
“It will help deal with the crisis in haulage availability, for supermarkets especially, but it will undermine the work being done to provide long-term solutions to deal with problems of lorry driver availability, pay and conditions.”
Rod McKenzie, RHA Managing Director for policy and public affairs said: “This proposal undermines the good work done already on training, testing of drivers and the improved pay and conditions we have started to see for drivers.”
Two measures supported by RHA that have not been adopted by the Government are:
- temporarily allowing non-UK drivers with valid qualifications to come to the UK
- changes to Driver Certificates of Professional Competence administration that would retain UK drivers in work and allow retired or lapsed UK drivers to come back to driving for UK companies
Rod continued, “These two measures proposed by the RHA (and others) would make a difference to the availability of lorry drivers for UK companies, it is a shame that the UK government chose not to proceed in a timely way on these measures and instead decided to offshore UK haulage work to unaccountable operators from outside the UK.
“When a driver works for a UK company they will be continuously assessed, often via telematics. The operators are accountable to the traffic commissioners in the UK for the compliance with safety standards. Under cabotage you have no effective control over compliance with safety standards.”
Cabotage effect on parking
Logistics UK says that due to the current shortage of truck parking spaces, the Government’s decision to extend cabotage will force more overnight lay-by parking.
James Firth, Logistics UK Head of Road Freight Regulation, said he recognised the extension of cabotage would give “breathing space” for more British drivers to be trained and tested — but that 14 days will put pressure on parking spaces.
During the consultation, the business group asked for the period of cabotage to be for 7 days, not 14.
“By allowing non-UK hauliers to work in the UK for 14 days, the drivers’ legally mandated weekly rest will need to be taken in the UK,” said Firth. As a result, pressure on existing HGV parking spaces will be increased.
“The government assesses [this figure] as being at least 1,400 spaces short. Therefore, it will lead to more drivers being forced to sleep overnight on the sides of roads or in insecure locations.”
Firth says it is vital that the temporary nature of this extension is adhered to. “We have received a commitment from government that the arrangements will be reviewed after three months.”