FTA policy director Elizabeth de Jong has told motortransport.co.uk that the government needs more proof that some hauliers are close to collapse before it can offer sector-specific support.

Her comments come in the wake of an RHA survey showing 73% of hauliers have significantly reduced or worse cashflow following the Covid-19 pandemic and 83% have significantly reduced or worse volumes.

Earlier this month, the FTA admitted a fifth of its own members are facing closure after delays to the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

But following talks with ministers, de Jong insisted: “For the moment, the FTA doesn’t have enough evidence that sector specific support is needed. Haulage is seeing signs of a recovery.

"There will be sector specific support if [hauliers] can demonstrate it’s needed and that the cross economy measures aren’t sufficient. But the bar is very high; we’re going into a deep global recession and realistically the government won’t be able to save every business.

"So answer our survey or email us – we’ll build the evidence that you are struggling. We’ll go straight to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to make those cross industry measures work."

Asked why the FTA had declined to co-sign a letter on 20 April from the RHA and other transport industry bodies to PM Boris Johnson pleading for more support she said: “We hadn’t got the same evidence. They were saying 40-odd percent of the fleet were parked up and we’re not seeing that.

"We’re in the same virtual meetings with the RHA and tackling the same issues but doing things in slightly different ways because we have slightly different memberships and we think slightly different things work. We’re focusing on BEIS. We've been doing in-depth surveys for nine weeks."

Asked if the RHA’s demand for government loans to be turned to grants would help the haulage sector, she said: “We would all like free money wouldn’t we? It’s not that we say a loan is better than a grant but we know government needs a high level of evidence to get that sector specific support."