Government risks road safety with HGV scheme, Unite warns

The government has risked road safety by failing to monitor the number of foreign lorries under the “controversial scheme” to increase HGV drivers, trade union, Unite has warned. 

The government’s change in cabotage rules in October 2021 has allowed foreign companies to send lorries with drivers into the UK to work unlimited hours, making unlimited deliveries in any 14 day period. 

Through a freedom of information request (FOI) Unite has uncovered that the Department of Transport (DfT) has not monitored how many foreign companies have taken advantage of the policy. 

The Dft told Unite they haven’t tracked how many foreign lorries have remained in the UK after 14 days and which countries they came from as they don’t monitor the results of “relaxed rules”. 

READ MORE: Extending HGV driver hours is “dangerous”, Unite warns

“This is sheer incompetence by the government, which is playing Russian roulette with British road users,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said. 

“It introduced this knee-jerk reaction to the lorry driver crisis last year, now they tell us they don’t know how many foreign lorry drivers have come, how many hours they work when they are here, and if they go home after the 14 day working period.” 

Graham added: “It’s literally an accident waiting to happen, based on the illegal super-exploitation of these drivers.” 

The trade union clarified the only way foreign lorries could be monitored was through on-the-spot inspections, which have declined by 39% since 2016/17. 

In a separate FOI response the DfT admitted that the only data on cabotage rates were compiled by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office despite the UK leaving the EU almost two years ago. 

“Rather than allowing foreign lorries unlimited access to the UK to tackle driver shortages, the government should be tackling the root causes of the driver crisis, low pay, long hours and the lack of decent parking and welfare facilities for drivers.” Unite national officer for road haulage Adrian Jones said. 

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