HGV driver desperate to help amid shortages but left waiting months to renew licence

The government has made it easier for former HGV drivers to return to the industry but delays in renewing their licences are adding to the backlog, ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman reports

Christopher Diack-Scott says there are thousands of other drivers, like him, who are ready to help fill the backlog but are unable to because of issues renewing their licences. The 48 -year-old from Doncaster says he put in his renewal in June and has yet to hear back - more than three months later.

He says the whole process has left him feeling "frustrated" and that the UK could have "thousands of drivers back on the road within weeks" if it weren't for the delay. 

"It makes you feel so frustrated, and why open up the borders to applicants to come into the country when you've probably got 10,000 drivers here who can't drive, they need to sort out their home before going away," he told ITV News.

Christopher Diack-Scott says thousands are waiting to 'help out' but can't

According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – which processes HGV licence applications – 4,000 are new applications and 50,000 are lorry drivers that are renewing existing licenses, meaning that most of them can continue driving.The shortage of HGV drivers in recent week is due to a combination of Covid, Brexit and other factors.

It's led to empty supermarket shelves and a lack of fuel at petrol pumps.

It's led the government to introduce 5,000 temporary visas for fuel tanker and food lorry drivers to work in the UK in the run-up to Christmas.

But many industry experts have said visas would do little to alleviate the current shortfall.

Those like Mr Diack-Scott, who spent 20 years as a driver before leaving, say European workers won't come to the UK because drivers here are treated like "second class citizens".

Mr Diack-Scott describes the working conditions that, he says, put drivers off coming to the UK

He spoke emotionally about what he said were dire working conditions which have driven many like him and his family out of the industry. 

This week military drivers are taking to the roads for the first time in support of the operation to keeping filling stations supplied.

Around 100 trained drivers (with an additional 100 support troops) are due to be deployed over the next few days, despite repeated assurances by ministers that the situation is "stabilising".

What does the government need to do to get drivers back on the road?

But those who have spent their lives as HGV drivers like Mr Diack-Scott say instead of these measures, the government need to reform the industry and become "more in line with Europe".

The government also said it will train thousands more drivers in a bid to ease the shortage and invest £10 million in skills camps to help new people to come into the industry.