UK Government announces official review of CPC training; hints it may be funded
The UK Government has officially announced a review into how the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC, commonly referred to as CPC) training process can be “updated to reduce the burden on drivers – both returning and new – and ensure it doesn’t act as a barrier to working in the sector."
The move comes after numerous calls from individuals and organisations within the British road transport industry to have the CPC training requirements scrapped, limited or suspended.
However, the government’s statement appears to focus on the cost of the training as being the main barrier – hinting that the training could either be funded or subsidised by the state.
Commenting on the review of CPC training, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that “no driver should be out of pocket or out of work through no fault of their own.”
“We’re listening to industry leaders who have told us about the issues HGV drivers face with CPC arrangements. Now we’ve taken back control of our own laws and regulations, I’m delighted to say we’re launching a review into these training rules. We understand it’s vital for drivers to remain fully qualified – but we’re looking to ensure they can do so in the most efficient way possible whilst maintaining road safety standards. No driver should be out of pocket or out of work through no fault of their own.”
The government’s press release also highlighted the cost of the training rather than the training requirements themselves:
“While its [CPC’s] aim is to keep standards high, some drivers are left to pay for the training themselves and are not paid whilst attending their training course. Feedback from industry suggests this puts off many drivers who have left the profession from returning.”
The focus on cost is interesting given the industry has generally said that the biggest issue is that the experierienced truckers in particular find the CPC training patronising, tedious and boring. In some cases, drivers have even said they’d rather quit the profession than have to bother doing the course again.
In his statement, Grant Shapps also said that the UK “had taken back control” of its “own laws and regulations”. However, as we reported earlier this year, it appears that the CPC is baked into the government’s “oven ready deal” with the EU.
Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport appears to share this view. When asked last month by Trans.INFO about the UK changing potentially changing CPC rules, the Ministry replied:
“The regulations of the Professional Driver Qualification Act and Ordinance are based on the implementation of Directive 2003/59 / EU of the European Union. A purely national suspension or abolition violates European law. The driver shortage in Great Britain is primarily a consequence of Brexit.”
Therefore, if it is not possible for the UK to amend the CPC, a move to fully or partly fund the cost of the training would make sense, as that would be compatible with the trade agreement.
In recent weeks, haulage associations in Denmark, Germany and Hungary have all urged the EU to make amendments to the CPC requirements to make experienced lorry drivers exempt – a move that would likely be welcomed in the UK too. Provided there is consensus across all member states, the training requirements could be changed in order to alleviate the driver shortage across Europe.
Meanwhile, in another announcement, the government says it is working with key stakeholders to identify a number of lorry parks across the country where “short-term facilities such as temporary toilets, showers and catering” can be delivered in the coming months.
The government adds it expects councils to “consider new proposals for these vital facilities constructively and has committed to review guidance that will assist this.”
The announcement on temporary facilities follows the £32.5 million allocated towards HGV driver facilities in the latest budget. In addition, the government states that £500,000 will also be added to the existing Mode Shift Revenue Support Fund for 2021 to 2022. This £20 million grant scheme provides funding to private-sector freight companies “to encourage them to move more freight from the country’s roads to either the railways or inland waterways.”
Commenting on the CPC review, Elizabeth De Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK, said:
“Logistics UK and its members also welcome the review of Driver CPC, to ensure that continuous education for drivers is as effective as possible while upholding all necessary safety requirements.”
Regarding the investment in facilities, the Logistics UK Director added:
“Inadequate driver facilities across the roads network have led to a negative impression of our industry, creating a barrier to entry to our sector and are an issue that Logistics UK has been campaigning on for many years; we are pleased that the government has listened to our concerns and will move forward with a rapid programme of improvements.”