Freight and Road Haulage Lobbyists Speak Out on the Overall UK Coronavirus Situation

UK - As everyone in the logistics field understands, keeping the supply chain running is the essential element required to maintain some sort of normality in the face of the Covid-19 coronavirus threat. We are all likely to get as bored as was the case with coverage of Brexit but it is of course necessary to keep abreast of what is, after all, a very fluid situation. With things moving fast two of the organisations whose members literally bear the brunt of carrying the nation's vital supplies have come out to praise some of the actions by national and local government.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has applauded the London Councils' decision to suspend the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLLS).It says this will allow logistics businesses to keep supermarkets and other retailers stocked during the pandemic. David Wells, CEO of FTA, recently wrote to the Chair of London Councils urging him to extend the hours in which deliveries can be made to supermarkets to help keep shelved stocked during this crisis. He commented:

"FTA and its members strongly welcome the London Councils' decision to listen to our advice and suspended temporarily the London Lorry Control Scheme; this is a vital step forward in the industry's response to the challenges posed by Covid-19. By extending the hours in which deliveries can be made, it strengthens the resilience of the supply chain and helps businesses to keep supermarkets stocked with the essential items consumers need to remain healthy and safe during this unprecedented time, including food, hygiene products and other basic items. "We advise all logistics businesses affected by this decision to follow the guidance and code of practice developed by Transport for London, with support from FTA.

By following this advice, operators can understand how to retime their deliveries effectively, while not disturbing local residents." The TfL guidance and code of practice weblink is available to view HERE whilst, as far as the virus itself is concerned, the FTA has also launched a unique free web portal www.tfa.co.uk/coronavirus to provide an overview of essential information and advice for the industry, the support provided by FTA, and the business group's asks of government at such a critical time. Elizabeth de Jong, FTA's Policy Director, explained the decision thus:

"Logistics as a sector is resilient and adaptable, but with the challenges ahead, it is vital that we keep our members as informed as possible so they can plan effectively and keep the UK's supply chain secure. FTA is committed to ensuring the industry is in the best possible shape to tackle any problems encountered in the coming weeks, and we hope that this portal provides all the information operators need to keep Britain trading. "With so much uncertainty affecting trading conditions, the main focus for FTA in the coming weeks will be protecting the supply chain.

We know that the UK has one of the strongest supply chains in the world, and our focus is ensuring that its resilience can be maintained. The coming weeks will pose the biggest challenge our industry has faced for many years, but FTA will be doing whatever it can to support one of the nation's most important industries." In addition to links to important government and industry advice, the portal will include the latest information from FTA's unique Coronavirus Logistics Impact Survey, which will provide an ongoing snapshot of confidence across the sector and highlight particular industry concerns.

FTA's asks of government at such a critical time can also be viewed, as well as details of support services which the organisation can provide to businesses, including those tackling compliance issues or the provision of a rapid strategic supply chain review. Over at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett expressed delight that the Department for Transport has acknowledged the vital contribution that UK hauliers play in keeping the economy moving during the coronavirus pandemic by relaxing the Drivers' Hours regulations. He commented:

"As far as the logistics industry is concerned, we are working as efficiently and as quickly as the current situation allows. Despite the public perception, shortages are not the problem - the problem lies with supplying the current unprecedented demand for goods. As a result, the usual efficient and cost-effective delivery schedules have gone out of the window.

"The relaxation in Drivers' Hours regulations currently applies to those responsible for the movement of essential items including- food, non-food, personal care and household paper and cleaning products and over the counter medicines. We need an relaxation on a wider basis to cover all parts of the supply chain, but there needs to be guidance as to when and how this will be applied. "We are living and working in very uncertain times but the nation will always need to be fed.

We represent the operators of commercial vehicles who in turn, are responsible for moving the entire UK economy. We will keep working closely with the relevant government departments to ensure that continues to be the case." The RHA boss was also keen to express the freight organisation's position on the recent news from Chancellor Rishi Sunack that government is to provide a GBP330 billion package of financial measures to help the economy, suffering as a result of coronavirus, to include aid for companies to access loans, a business rates holiday, and help for small firms without insurance.

He said: "This is good news for the thousands of businesses that are suffering as a result of the impact of the current pandemic. For UK hauliers in particular it's good news.

Their profit margins stand at between 1% and 2% and many are already operating on a knife-edge. For them, these measures represent the difference between make or break. "It is also encouraging to hear the Chancellor say that he will be talking to business groups to arrange new support.

I will personally try to ensure that that haulage operators, responsible for moving the entire economy, are top of the list.

The RHA has been pushing tirelessly for the past four days, including throughout the weekend, to get financial support for the haulage industry during these difficult times."

The RHA says it is currently disseminating at all the details surrounding these 'rescue' measures and will be passing on the information to its members.

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