DVLA faces pressure to clear backlog of 54,000 HGV licences

29 September 2021, 12:17 | Updated: 29 September 2021, 12:24

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The DVLA is facing growing pressure to clear a backlog of 54,000 HGV licences as a shortage of drivers sparks huge problems across many industries.

The fuel industry is the latest to suffer a crisis with days of chaos at petrol stations sparked by reports that a shortage of tanker drivers was threatening supplies.

This prompted a wave of panic buying, with pumps running dry and violence erupting at some forecourts.

READ MORE: Fuel crisis 'to last weeks', but PM insists it is stabilising as the army gets ready

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The Government has revealed plans to grant 5,000 temporary visas to EU drivers to alleviate the supply chain crisis, however this has drawn criticism as tens of thousands of UK drivers wait months to receive or renew licences.

One caller, Deep, told LBC his HGV licence expired about a year ago and he hadn't been able to get a replacement due to Covid.

He explained to Nick Ferrari that drivers with an HGV licence are expected to do to a medical every five years.

Deep said he had spent days trying to call DVLA to get the required medical pack so, after repeatedly failing to get through, sent an email.

He told Nick "you won't believe this" as he revealed he got a response telling him to call the same number that he had been trying to get through on for days.

He said it will take another four weeks to get a medical from a doctor and another two or three weeks on top of that for licence to be sent.

He added: "And yet they want to have Europeans to come along and do our driving when we've got people in this country who are waiting to drive, waiting to do this stuff and they can't. It takes forever."

It comes as Boris Johnson received a fresh warning that the situation is threatening supplies in the run-up to Christmas unless ministers adopt a "more decisive approach" to the issue.

Fashion giant Next said its service was likely to to experience "some degradation" as the festive season approached without a relaxation of the immigration rules.

In his first public comments on the issue, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday the situation was "stabilising" and urged motorists to fill up their tanks as normal.

He said the Government was putting in place preparations to ensure "all parts of our supply chain" - not just petrol - were able to "get through to Christmas and beyond".

At the same time, however, he insisted he was not prepared to address labour shortages through "uncontrolled immigration" leading to a "low wage, low skill" economy.

Meanwhile 150 military drivers, together with a further 150 drivers' mates, who have been put on standby to assist in the crisis are beginning training to operate petrol tankers.