John Jempson & Son has backed the call for a government loan scheme for trainee HGV drivers, which would operate along the same lines as a student loan.

MD Jonathan Jempson leant his support to Massey Wilcox Transport MD Robert Wilcox’s recent demand that the government tackle the driver shortage crisis via a loan scheme.

The company, which specialises in construction haulage, operates around 80 trucks and 150 trailers from its headquarters in Rye, Sussex.

Jempson told “The driver shortage is the biggest crisis facing this industry. Something needs to be done. I think providing a loan to fund the cost of training to become an HGV driver is an excellent idea.

"Being an HGV driver is getting more complicated and becoming much more of a profession with the need for regular CPC training every five years. That should be recognised by providing grants for trainee drivers.

"Why is this less important than funding university students to study degree courses many of which cannot guarantee them work when they graduate?”

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He added: “It could also solve the problem of driver retention. This would avoid that problem of losing drivers that you’ve paid to train whilst at the same time addressing the skills shortage.”

Jempson said the company had turned its back on the new LGV Driver apprenticeship scheme.

“We would rather do it ourselves. We don’t like the government apprenticeship scheme. We tried to get involved but it took too much time and was too expensive with not much money coming back.”

In its latest annual results for the year to 31 October 2018, John Jempson & Son saw a fall in both turnover and pre-tax profit.

Turnover was down by 3.6% to £13.3m (2017: £13.8m) with pre-tax profit also falling by just over a quarter to £289,915 (2017: £391,590) in the period.

Jempson said the annual  results “indicate that we were slightly less busy than in the previous year. We have one major customer and when their business fluctuates then so does our turnover”.

He added that the company is currently in the process of expanding its customer base to protect it in the future. It is also looking at moving its headquarters from the centre of Rye to land it owns just outside of the town.