The Prime Minister’s proposed civil service recruitment freeze could see the UK’s HGV driver shortage escalate, if staff managing the backlog of driver testing cannot be recruited, Logistics UK is warning.

Road safety could also be compromised if planned resourcing for heavy vehicle checks is halted and any staff shortage could further disrupt the UK supply chain, the association added.

Last week it was revealed that Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to slash the size of Whitehall by a fifth to free up billions of pounds for promised tax cuts, ahead of the next general election. The plan would see up to 90,000 civil service jobs slashed.

James Firth, Logistics UK’s head of road freight regulation policy, warned that the planned Whitehall jobs cull would have a “significant” impact on the delivery of driver licensing applications, heavy vehicle safety checks and HGV driver testing.

“Logistics businesses have reported continued difficulties in accessing HGV annual safety tests and, with a shortage of qualified drivers continuing across industry, it is crucial that this freeze does not compromise the safety of road users nor disrupt the supply chain by reducing the availability of drivers,” he warned.

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He also noted that some of the services that face being left short-handed by a freeze have been funded by the industry already. “DVSA, DVLA and other government agencies have vacancies that have already been budgeted for, the funding for which is not coming from general taxation, but from the fees that industry pays,” he explained.

Logistics UK said it is seeking reassurance that agencies delivering critical safety services funded by industry will be protected from any blanket Whitehall recruitment freeze.

Firth added that Logistics UK plans to write to Ministers “in the coming days” to urge government to consult with industry before making any decision “to ensure minimal impact to industry and to the wider supply chain.”