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Government moves to increase HGV testing capacity are still not enough to deliver Christmas, the RHA has insisted.

The warning follows moves by the government last week to make another 50,000 HGV driving tests a year available, on top of measures earlier this year to increase HGV testing by 50% compared with before the Covid-19 pandemic.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett claims the measures will not be enough. He said: “At the moment, at 3,000 tests a week, there is a pass rate of 56%, so we are only getting 1,600 drivers. We have a natural attrition rate of 600 drivers, so that gives us 1,000 drivers. If we did manage to put 1,000 drivers through a week, even if we got back to pre-pandemic rates by training another 40,000 drivers to get us down to that 60,000 pre-pandemic shortage, it would take us almost a year. So we will not deliver Christmas unless we have access to a broader foreign market.”

Logistics UK said the changes to the HGV testing regime were “very welcome” but needed to be implemented quickly if they are to make a difference to the current shortage in time for Christmas.

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Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, said: “With access to tests a key barrier to recruits wishing to join the occupation, the government’s measures to speed up the process of qualifying as an HGV driver – including the removal of staged testing and allowing authorised private sector examiners to undertake parts of the examination – will increase testing capacity significantly and have a positive effect in the longer-term.

“However, the impact of today’s measures is unlikely to make a significant difference on the driver shortage if they cannot be implemented in time for the industry’s Christmas peak, with DVSA, DVLA and the wider training industry needing time to apply the changes and adapt their operations.”

The government measures, which will be introduced from 20 September, include a halt to car driver tests to tow a trailer or caravan, which will allow about 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be taken this year.

In addition HGV tests will be made shorter, with the reversing exercise element removed and the uncoupling and recoupling exercise for trailer tests removed - and they will not have to be tested separately by a third party.

Articulated vehicle drivers will also no longer have to get a licence for a smaller vehicle first. The government says this will allow about 20,000 more HGV tests each year and means drivers can gain licences and enter the industry more quickly.