The Government’s announcement that HGV drivers’ permitted hours will be temporarily extended from Monday 12 July has been welcomed by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD).
FWD chief executive James Bielby commented: “This is just what food distributors needed – an immediate and obvious solution to what could have been a catastrophic supply chain failure.
“The flexibility in drivers’ hours means those out-of-the-way shops, pubs and restaurants will get the stock they need for the big re-opening on Freedom Day, and will allow wholesalers to do as much as 15% more deliveries each day. Provided it remains in place into the autumn, it will avert possible school closures in September and shortages in the shops in the run-up to Christmas.
“The safety of drivers and other road users will be top of mind when wholesalers decide where and when to use the extension. While it’s the perfect solution to avert disaster, we recognise it is a stop-gap measure, and Government and the haulage industry need to work very hard on longer-term solutions, such as raising the profile, pay and conditions of the HGV driver role and incentivising younger people to take up the occupation.
“FWD was the first organisation to call for this, and are the only trade association to have been consistently lobbying Government for a temporary extension of hours to allow wholesalers to serve independent retailers in rural and vulnerable communities. We faced huge opposition from the haulage lobby, unions and a sceptical Government.
“We would like to thank DfT Ministers for listening to the howls coming from wholesalers and recognising the scale of the impending disaster. The wholesale sector has been heard, and despite strong initial opposition, we have achieved the best result for distributors, their customers, and the UK economy.”