With the rules on the number of deliveries a driver can carry out set to be relaxed, leading driving recruitment specialist Encore Personnel is welcoming this extension to ‘cabotage’ rights.

Encore’s industry-leading driving division, which operates in six of its ten branches in the UK, currently supports a network of HGV drivers to find their perfect work within logistics as well as clients in the industry to secure the best drivers.

In response to driver shortages and supply chain issues which continue to affect the driving industry, the Government launched a week-long consultation – which has now ended, with responses that may lead to new rules which will allow EU drivers to make unlimited deliveries in a 14-day period, as opposed to the current rule which only allows EU hauliers to make two deliveries or two collections in a week. The relaxation of rules would apply to all goods but could particularly be beneficial for food supplies coming into the country, in the lead up to the busy Christmas peak period.

Andrew Fletcher, Area Manager within Encore’s driving team, is particularly pleased to hear this welcome news and said: “Extending Cabotage is something that Encore has been calling for, for a while, simply to reduce the pressure on the supply chain short term and thus supporting the industry as a whole.

“We welcome the move as, if implemented, it will provide immediate relief to the challenges we face currently with the driver shortage, as it does not require Visas, or anything else over and above what these operators are already doing. Drivers can complete more journeys, which will then ease wider supply chain pressures.”

However, Andrew believes the cabotage extension is only a short-term solution to the driver challenges currently faced.

He added: “This extension although welcomed isn’t a long-term solution to the ‘home-grown’ UK drivers the industry currently requires more of. Focus, in our opinion should be on working conditions for drivers. Being able to offer shifts of reasonable length where drivers can get home every night, good working conditions on company sites such as a canteen which serves good quality hot food when the drivers need it, clean toilet facilities, somewhere warm and tidy for drivers to wait for their vehicles to be ready and a clean modern vehicle fleet will all encourage more individuals to pursue as well as continue a career in driving. We believe employers can ultimately encourage the home-grown drivers the industry is craving.”

Is it all down to the employer however to build back the workforce of drivers? Andrew adds: “This is not where it stops, however. Customers also have a part to play and need to place a focus on ensuring drivers have good quality facilities available when making deliveries. Add to this the need to have the same quality facilities across the UK motorway network for drivers to make stops at during their journey. The extension of cabotage is only the first step to short-term easing of the driver shortage issues. There is a need to start looking at the wider driving supply chain and changes that can be made there.”

Established in Leicester in 2001, Encore Personnel operates 10 branches and 22 Managed Services sites across the Midlands, employs more than 200 staff and places 4,000 workers each week, and along with driving, also specialises in warehousing, manufacturing, logistics, and engineering recruitment.