‘20 weeks for a test!’ Charlie Stayt vents fury at Shapps over HGV driver shortage crisis

Grant Shapps grilled by Charlie Stayt over HGV driver shortage

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With energy prices rising and a shortage of delivery drivers hitting the UK, Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty invited Grant Shapps onto BBC Breakfast to discuss the government’s plans to resolve the issue. However, when Stayt put Shapps on the spot about the complexities someone faces if they want to take up the profession to help out, as well as what the government was doing to resolve the problem, the BBC frontman wasn’t exactly impressed by the response.

The debate surrounding the driver shortage arose as Charlie brought up the length of time it could take someone to train to become eligible to drive the vehicles.

When Shapps tried to bat away the probe by insisting the government was doing “everything it can” to resolve the problem, Stayt continued to put the MP on the spot. 

“I go back to my question,” a frustrated Stayt hit back. “You say you’re trying to speed up the process,

“If I’m trying to book a test today, do you know this? When could I get a test?” Stayt asked as Shapps replied they’re released “10 weeks in advance” but are getting “snapped up”.

“So what we’re doing is making sure there are more tests available and they are getting booked up very quickly which tells us there are a lot of people who want to return to driving.

“Because maybe HGV licenses have lapsed but they already have the skills and need to take the test before they can drive a lory -“ Shapps continued before Stayt cut him off.

The BBC Breakfast host interjected: “While we’re talking I’m trying to do the maths and picking up on some of your figures there.

“So if I book a test today and miss that first one because they’re all being snapped up, you said that, 10 weeks, so that’s 20 weeks ahead, just go with me on this, that means 20 weeks to pass a test.

“You well know the problems, not only in the fuel industry but in the supermarkets, it’s today, it was last week, it’s tomorrow. 

“So I’m not quite sure how what you’re planning to do and I take on board that you’re trying to speeding it up, is going to make a difference right now.”

Shapps stuttered before answering: “Well it makes a difference to a factor of two if you like, whilst all those tests would’ve been taken – more test places would’ve opened up over the 10-week period.

“Not 20 weeks over the same period, so more people are coming in and even in the case of BP who actually use a contractor to deliver their petrol – they are getting a gradual increase.”

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Shapps then added that a rise implemented on wages the government pushed through has worked in encouraging drivers to return to the wheel or take up the occupation for the first time.

But Stayt grilled Shapps once more on the figures which state more people are still leaving the profession rather than joining, leading him to blast “you’re doing nothing”.

Shapps insisted this wasn’t the case now before Stayt put him on the spot about immediate action, which may include bringing in the army or European workers. Shapps said he’d “look at everything possible” to sort the crisis today.

Stayt remained unconvinced and blasted: ”What’s the point in looking at (possibilities)? If there are problems with supply and that issue is around people to drive the trucks, then why not do something now?

“I don’t understand the delay? How does this delaying this make it better?”

Shapps continued to reiterate the testing growth in place and how the government is continuing to encourage people to the profession and refused to “rule out” any possible resolutions to the crisis.

Reacting to the debate, it seems many sided with Charlie, as Diane said on Twitter: “Just been listening to grant shapps going on about extra HGV test slots – my son applied for his provisional HGV licence in May, still waiting, so no matter how many tests available he can’t do the training till he has a licence- so they need to look at the whole process.”

Jack blasted: “So is the agreement between the BBC & the Tories that they’ll appear on your shows as long as you don’t ask them any questions about Brexit? Shapps going completely unchallenged about the real reasons for the driver shortage on #BBCBreakfast this morning. Not one B word question.”

While Jenny weighed in: “@BBCBreakfast is Grant Shapps serious? He does realise, surely, that very few companies will take on a newly qualified HGV driver? They all want 2 years experience. Also no fuel company is going to let a newly qualified driver drive combustible fuel around the week after passing!”

And @_SonOftheDesert vented: “Grant Shapps talking out of his a**e on @BBCBreakfast. Of course bringing in EU drivers would help. It’s a 20 week process to get new HGV drivers qualified, so let’s bring in outside workers on 6-month contracts.”

BBC Breakfast airs daily at 6am on BBC One.

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