The government has effectively offshored UK haulage work to foreign operators after announcing it had slackened the rules on cabotage, according to the RHA.

The business group said the move to allow continental hauliers to take on unlimited work in this country in two-week blocks seriously undermined efforts to recruit domestic drivers and would suppress wages.

Following a short consultation, HMRC said it was allowing until 30 April 2022 unlimited cabotage movements of HGVs for up to 14 days after arriving in the UK on a laden international journey.

HMRC said the move was expected to help alleviate pressures in the supply chain associated with the current shortage of HGV drivers.

But the RHA lambasted the move and said it was strongly opposed and that rather than bringing in drivers from outside of the UK to work for UK companies, the cabotage changes outsourced the whole haulage activity, including tax, safety regulations and national insurance obligations.

Read more

Rod McKenzie, RHA MD for policy and public affairs, said: “This announcement directly contradicts the government’s stated aim of creating a high-wage economy.

“Foreign hauliers will flood the UK, running on cheaper fuel and low paid drivers, undercutting the work UK hauliers are doing.

“This greatly undermines the improved pay and conditions we have started to see for UK drivers.”

McKenzie added: “It is shameful that the government are offshoring UK haulage work to operators from outside the UK who will pay no income tax or national insurance and are unaccountable for safety standards and compliance.”

Earlier this week, Gary Austin, co-chair of the Trailblazer Group for logistics, said the government’s cabotage solution would “wreck the transport industry further”.