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Help for hauliers and suppliers ‘would avoid shocks’

MSPs say lorry driving needs to be more attractive

Scotland needs to make lorry driving more attractive and improve local supplies of materials to provide greater protection against shocks to the economy, according to a committee of MSPs.

A report highlights the strain placed on business supplies by the Covid-19 outbreak and the UK’s exit from the EU which contributed to labour and raw material shortages, extended delivery times and rising prices.

The report by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy and Fair Work Committee makes a range of longer-term recommendations regarding people, places and products, but asks for immediate action to be taken in some key areas.

Evidence in the report highlights the shortage of HGV drivers and the difficulties there are in filling these vacancies.

It says there is a lack of support for HGV drivers while transport and logistics are often not seen as good career choices.

Claire Baker: we need more protection

While the report welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposals to improve facilities for HGV drivers, it calls for the Scottish Government to take further action to improve the attractiveness of jobs and careers in this sector.

It adds that the UK Government needs to state whether it intends to extend relaxations on working restrictions and visa requirements to ease pressures.

The committee heard how raw material shortages are impacting Scotland’s construction industry. The report calls for increases in local production of materials where possible and the strengthening of local supply chains, bringing investment to local businesses and communities while also recognising the environmental benefits.

The report calls on the Scottish Government lead by example and include carbon miles in its criteria for public building projects, to encourage production using locally sourced materials.

MSPs heard that a lack of knowledge of future planned major public projects hinders the development of Scottish supply chains, creating a bottleneck for firms making investment decisions, hindering growth and the development of Scottish products.

While the report welcomes the introduction of the Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool, it says there must be greater effort to publicise this resource and provide clarity as early as possible to industry on the nature and volume of public projects.

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Committee convener Claire Baker said: “Disruption to supply chains, unforeseen or otherwise, can have a major impact and we need to ensure action is taken to create resilience and protect our economy.

“Many businesses, public bodies and consumers rely on strong supply chains. We are making recommendations to plan for a skilled workforce to meet Scotland’s needs, a robust transport network which keeps goods moving and a focus on developing and implementing local supply chains.

“The Scottish Government must show leadership in supporting the development of innovative products, including changes to building regulations if required to incentive sustainable alternatives.

“Procurement contracts must be used to support local production and provide more opportunities to strengthen supply chain.

“The committee also calls on the Scottish Government to focus the proceeds from the Scotwind auction to support the development of supply chains in the renewable energy sector and the new technologies necessary to deliver a just transition.”

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