Keir Starmer has repeated his call for greater urgency from the government to tackle haulage driver shortages, ahead of a visit to an HGV training centre.
The Labour leader dismissed as a “sticking plaster” a recent government announcement that it will increase places on a fast-track “skills boot camp” by 2000 to 5000 to boost the number of lorry drivers.
He called on the government to take greater action “before yet another Christmas is ruined by Tory failure”.
Speaking ahead of a visit to an HGV training provider on Tuesday, he said: “The haulage sector is trying to save Christmas, get medical supplies to where they’re needed and keep our forecourts open, whilst the government is missing in action with their out of office on.
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“This is a crisis made in Downing Street but so far being mopped up by businesses and workers.
“The industry has warned they need 15,000 extra drivers to meet Christmas food deliveries alone, which a sticking plaster boot camp scheme just isn’t going to deliver.
“This government must break the habit of their decade in power by acting with the urgency required before yet another Christmas is ruined by Tory failure.
“Ministers need to listen to industry to build a secure HGV workforce, they must set out how exactly they are going to attract people to training, including by listening to Labour’s plan to create more apprenticeships, and ultimately address how they are going to improve pay and conditions for this vital sector.”
A government spokesperson added: “We have taken immediate action to increase the supply of HGV drivers to support fuel and food supply chains – streamlining the testing process, enabling fuel companies to work together and introducing short-term, temporary visas.
“We are seeing signs of improvement in average forecourt stocks across the UK, with demand continuing to stabilise.
“This is a global problem and we have been working closely with industry for months to boost recruitment.”
with PA Wires