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The RHA and FTA have expressed their frustration at the government’s failure to back calls for an HGV driver training fund in the Autumn Statement, and criticised the absence of a dedicated driving apprenticeship.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said that ignoring the trade association’s call for a £150m driver training fund was “jeopardising supply chains” and could well “put the brakes on the economic recovery”.

He said that drivers trained through the fund would more than reimburse the UK economy in terms of “additional income tax, NI, and up to an extra £275 million in fuel duty revenue due to the extra truck miles driven”.

It follows the RHA's emergency petition calling for the funding, which Burnett delivered to Downing Street himself in June this year (pictured).

The FTA said George Osborne’s failure to address the shortage of HGV drivers was “simply not good enough”.

With no official mechanism in place, it said, the road transport industry will struggle to find the 45,000 new drivers it needs.

The association’s skills development manager Sally Gilson said: “FTA is deeply concerned that without the proper funding for training the driver shortage problem is going to get worse. There must be a route available for people wanting a career as a driver - without access to apprenticeships this issue will only be exacerbated.”

The Autumn Statement did reveal details of the new apprenticeship levy, which is forecast to raise £3bn and fund 3m new apprenticeships from 2017.

However this has little bearing on the industry because there is no recognised driver training apprenticeship at present, after the industry’s bid for a Trailblazer apprenticeship was rejected earlier this year.

Gilson said: “With an apprenticeship for HGV driver’s post 2017 still in the balance, it seems as though the Chancellor expects large companies to fund apprenticeships that they may not be able to provide unless the Skills Minister reverses his earlier decision to reject HGV apprenticeships.”

Burnett said “a third Trailblazer bid is under consideration by the business department”.

He added: “It is essential that we get a driver apprenticeship, otherwise the levy is simply a tax on payroll. An apprenticeship without funding for the core element of training ahead of the HGV driving test would be largely meaningless.”