Can military veterans help solve the HGV crisis?

  • Report by Kate Walby

With fears over fuel and food deliveries this festive season, the government has sent out thousands of letters to people with an HGV licence asking them to help with the driver shortage.

Many service personnel gain qualifications to drive heavy vehicles and one former soldier from Carlisle says it's a great chance for struggling veterans to get back on their feet.

Former soldier Richard Pitchford, who has received a letter from the government, told ITV Border, "It's not a fast fix, but you do have a large population of people who already have HGV licenses who could assist."

Veterans would need to do refresher courses and undergo a medical exam if they're over 45. That's a spend of £500.

Richard added, "The cost is prohibitive. If the government steps up and helps with that it will actually encourage that to happen, and then the longer pieces to make the industry attractive again and why not look at the homeless population of veterans. These are highly qualified, highly skilled people who would really benefit from a purpose."

Nearly 1 million letters have been sent out to people with HGV licences. Credit: ITV News

The government says it's working hard to recruit more drivers to the industry.

Figures from the Department for Transport have shown there is a backlog of more than 56,000 applications for vocational driving licences, including HGV and bus permits, waiting to be processed.

Ministers have blamed the pandemic, which led to the cancellation last year of tens of thousands of tests.

Rallying the veterans together could be one way of ensuring the delivery of fuel, food and presents this Christmas