The government has ruled out funding HGV licence acquisitions to ease the current driver shortage in the UK, according to DfT minister Lord Ahmed.

Speaking at the third and final evidence session for the Transport Committee’s Road haulage sector: Skills and workforce planning inquiry, Lord Ahmed told the committee: “The principle remains that we won’t look at funding HGV licences. That has been a principle established since 2005 and that is a position we will not be changing.”

The news comes as a blow to the haulage industry, which lead by the RHA has been lobbying for direct government funding of HGV licences as a way of encouraging more drivers into the industry, which is currently facing an estimated shortfall of 40,000 drivers.

Asked again during the session by the committee if the government had any plans to fund HGV licences, Lord Ahmed added: “The short answer is no – it isn’t something the government is intending to change.

However within the scope of the new Trailblazer apprenticeship we are looking at and intending to discuss with the industry to see if there is an elements based on knowledge in training that can be looked at in terms of funding.

But in terms of specifically funding the licensing we are not intending to change our policy.”

The cost of gaining an HGV licence has been estimated at £1,500 to £3,000 and described as a significant barrier in attracting new drivers to the sector.