UK simplifies lorry driver test as shortages bite

LONDON (AFP) – The British government said on Friday it will simplify the procedure to qualify as a lorry driver to tackle widespread delivery problems hitting retail businesses.

Hauliers and business associations have blamed empty shelves in shops on an exodus of European Union (EU) national drivers due to Brexit as well as virus-related restrictions.

The Department of Transport said in a statement it is acting “to streamline the testing process… to tackle HGV driver shortages”, referring to drivers of large lorries.

It said it would make up to 50,000 extra driving test slots available per year and reduce the number of required elements.

The government statement stressed that these changes to the rules were possible due to leaving the EU.

A lorry driver entering the Port of Dover on the southeast coast of England, showing his credentials to a member of the British Army. PHOTO: AFP

This will not affect the driving standard required, it insisted.

It also stressed that the driver shortage was not unique to Britain and was “affecting countries around the world”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in Parliament on Thursday that “to say this is just an issue of Brexit is completely untrue”.

However business leaders have linked the problem in the United Kingdom (UK) to a new post-Brexit points-based immigration system that does not class lorry drivers as skilled workers.