The Logistics Skills Network (LSN) has slammed the DVSA’s decision to suspend HGV driver testing and training during the government’s latest four-week lockdown in England, which began last week.

The LSN, whose members train around 40% of all HGV drivers each year, is warning that the decision will add thousands more delayed tests to the existing backlog of 20,000 delayed HGV tests created by the previous lockdown and exacerbate the HGV driver shortage in the middle of the logistics industry’s peak period.

In a letter sent to DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn, the LSN calls for the suspension of testing and training to be reversed “immediately”.

The letter, written by LSN chairman David Coombes, argues that nothing in the Statutory Instrument (SI) regulations approved by Parliament to enable this latest lockdown legally requires HGV driver training and testing to cease.

He adds; “In fact, quite the opposite. The SI makes a specific exception to the lockdown regulations where the purpose is education and training. Clearly the training of vocational drivers falls under this category and is therefore exempt.”

The letter, which has also been copied to DfT minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton and Conservative MP Huw Merriman, also warns of the damage the suspension of HGV training and testing will have on the haulage industry and the wider economy.

Pointing out that the suspension of testing in the first pandemic lockdown had created a backlog of around 20,000 HGV tests, Coombes warns that applying the same suspension across the second lockdown will create a further backlog of around 6,000 HGV tests which, he adds, will have “serious consequences for the economy just when the logistics industry is gearing up for peak. By the end of the four-week lockdown we will have lost the capacity to deliver 40,000 tonnes of food, medicinal supplies and other freight every day.”

The RHA also voiced its concern this week. Tom Cotton, RHA head of policy for England and Wales, said any suspension of HGV driver tests will exacerbate the severe shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.

He said: “When vocational testing is suspended this only compounds the driver shortage in this country, which currently stands at a shortfall of around 60,0000 drivers, and creates additional problems for our members.”

DVSA has yet to respond to a request from for comment.