The Apprenticeship Levy is “fast becoming a tax,” Road Haulage Association Chief Executive Richard Burnett believes.
Speaking at the RHA’s Autumn Conference Centre in Birmingham, he voiced the frustrations that hauliers have in unlocking funding as the industry faces up to a growing skills shortage.
“The haulage sector has paid in £120 million to the Levy yet has only been able to draw down on £10m as it tackles the shortfall of more than 50,000 drivers,” Richard Burnett said. “Why should it be such a battle to persuade the Government to support initiatives like Road to Logistics and provide a more flexible Apprenticeship Levy that actually supports our industry?”
He argued that the Government adopting the Migration Advisory Committee’s skills-based recommendations on migrant labour was only going to make things worse. The RHA has called for exemptions for the sector, to allow UK firms to employ HGV drivers from the EU.
Continuing the Brexit theme, he told delegates that he gave evidence at the Committee for Exiting the EU Committee Parliament last month, and warned that Government divisions were making it impossible for the sector to look ahead with any certainty: “Our concern is that if the Government is unable to speak with one voice on Brexit, what chance do we have of planning for the future?”
“Rest assured,” he said, “as the date for Brexit gets nearer, we will be working to protect our members and the industry as a whole.”
Attendees were very keen to join in the ‘Question Time’ session with Senior Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt. Questions covered a wide range of issues including brake testing, O-licences and roadworthiness. Have you read the annual report of the traffic commissioners?” Richard Turfitt asked. “It’s a cracking read as we all know”.