“Don’t let cabotage sabotage UK hauliers” – RHA


The Road Haulage Association (RHA) in the UK has reacted negatively on the Government proposal to allow foreign haulage companies to undertake unlimited work in the UK in two-week blocks. The RHA opposes this proposal because we believe more effective measures can be taken to deal with the shortage of lorry drivers and the supply chain crisis in the UK

In simple terms, cabotage allows non-UK haulage companies to work in the UK while being based outside the UK. The companies and employees will pay no tax in the UK.  This is not about drivers from outside the UK working for UK companies – this proposal outsources the whole haulage activity – tax, safety regulation, national insurance obligations are all controlled outside the UK when cabotage is unfettered in the way proposed by Government.

It will help deal with the crisis in haulage availability, for supermarkets especially, but it will undermine the work being done to provide long-term solutions to deal with problems of lorry driver availability, pay and conditions.

Commenting, RHA md for policy and public affairs, Rod McKenzie said: “This proposal undermines the good work done already on training, testing of drivers and the improved pay and conditions we have started to see for drivers.”

The RHA has supported a range of measures, some have been taken up but key measures have not.

Two that have not been taken up relate to temporarily adding non-UK drivers with valid qualifications to come to the UK and changes to Driver Certificates of Professional Competence administration that would retain UK drivers in work and allow retired or lapsed UK drivers to come back to driving for UK companies.

Rod continued, “These two measures proposed by the RHA (and others) would make a difference to the availability of lorry drivers for UK companies, it is a shame that the UK government chosen not to proceed in a timely way on these measures and instead decided to offshore UK haulage work to unaccountable operators from outside the UK”.

When a driver works for a UK company they will be continuous assessed, often via telematics.  The operators are accountable to the traffic commissioners in the UK for the compliance with safety standards.  Under cabotage you have no effective control over compliance with safety standards.

The impact of these proposals

  • It will take work off UK businesses and their employees
  • It will reduce UK taxes as the non-UK companies will pay no tax or national insurance contributions in the UK
  • The drivers employed by the non-UK companies will pay no tax or national insurance in the UK
  • There never has been any UK enforcement of minimum wage rules for cabotage in the past, so we believe many drivers will be paid below the UK minimum wage
  • UK haulage rates and driver wage rates will be undermined by the unfettered non-tax paying competition from outside the UK
  • Lorry parking facilities will be over-run with non-UK lorries being held touting for work (especially in Kent, Essex and Humberside areas)
  • Worst of all, the measure undermines most of the positive actions taken by the to improve pay and conditions for UK drivers and operators and the effort being taken to increase training and testing