The DVSA must overturn its decision to stop all LGV driving tests during the pandemic to help address the shortage of professional drivers in the industry, according to Logistics UK.

It said the industry needed 76,000 drivers and that the government must act now to secure the future of the industry.

In a report looking at skills and employment in logistics, the group said Brexit and Covid-19 had exposed structural issues in the labour market.

It said a raft of changes were needed, including interest-free loans or grants to support HGV driver training; reform of the apprenticeship levy and an urgent catch-up of LGV driver tests that have been cancelled this year.

The report said there were 20,500 fewer HGV drivers in Q2 2020, a reduction of 6.7% year-on-year; the number of EU HGV drivers fell by 14,275 (36.3%), and there was a drop of 4,000 (1.5%) in UK nationals who are HGV drivers.

Elizabeth de Jong, Logistics UK policy director, said 79,000 EU workers had left the country in the last year and she added: “The DVSA must overturn its decision to halt all HGV driving tests during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The time for talk is over: the government must act now on these issues to secure the future of logistics.”

Last month, DVSA’s outgoing chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said the driver shortage had nothing to do with its testing capacity and was instead an image issue.

He said: “Before we went into lockdown in England, we had 6,500 vocational tests booked through to the end of the calendar year. We had 2,300 vacant slots.

“If there was an over-demand for our services then I am not seeing it.”