An HGV driver from Wirral says huge delays in processing forms have cost him almost £17,000.
This comes at a time when HGV drivers are in high demand and massive queues have formed at petrol pumps due to a lack of hauliers able to transport fuel around.
Gordon Orr, 65, who lives in Irby, Wirral, has had an HGV licence for decades and driven them for a living for almost 10 years.
But he has not been able to drive an HGV for the past 14 weeks, despite passing a medical exam and submitting it to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency), a government body.
A DVLA spokesperson apologised for the inconvenience this has caused and said there are delays in processing paper applications due to the impact of recent industrial action and social distancing requirements.
Not only is this delay costing Mr Orr thousands of pounds, it may also be contributing to a nationwide problem which means the army could be drafted in to drive petrol tankers.
Mr Orr claims a strike at the DVLA was part of the problem.
Several strikes have been carried out by DVLA workers over Covid-19 safety concerns this year, with a month-long period of industrial action taking place between August 2 and August 31 over this issue.
Speaking to the ECHO, Mr Orr said: “The DVLA strike must be contributing massively to the driver shortage.
“It [the delay in processing my forms] has actually got to 14 weeks now, the first few weeks I drifted along and I thought it was part of life.
“But I am annoyed [now]. I drive mainly for Great Bear and they are desperate to get me. It has massively affected me financially, I can earn £1,200 a week at busy times and over 14 weeks that adds up to a lot of money.”
Mr Orr said having lost around £16,800 he has had to cut back in order to keep his head above water.
Mr Orr added: “I have had to cut back more and more as it goes on. When you’ve got 16 grandchildren and you like to help them out, you can’t do that sort of stuff anymore.”
The Wirral haulier, who was born in Zimbabwe but has lived in Irby for more than 15 years, said it was very difficult to get hold of the DVLA to deal with the problem.
Mr Orr continued: “Historically the DVLA was one of the most efficient government departments I’d ever known.
“They used to say it would take 10 days [to get a document back], but it frequently came back within two or three, so that’s what I expected to an extent.
“[But now] you can’t speak to anybody and if you phone them it says they’re busy and cuts you off.
“If you use the web chat it says there are no agents available, if you do get through they say they can’t help because it’s a different section.
“You’re met with an impenetrable wall of silence.”
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Mr Orr added that although he thought that he may be technically allowed to drive as his forms had been sent off, his agency did not want to give him jobs until the DVLA had sent them back due to insurance concerns, which he understood.
A DVLA spokesperson said: “There are delays in processing paper applications and reaching our contact centre due to the impact of recent industrial action and social distancing requirements, which means that we have fewer staff than usual on site.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. There may be longer delays for more complex transactions such as those that require medical investigations.
“Where we require additional information from a driver’s doctor or medical professional involved in their care we are wholly reliant on receiving this information before a decision can be made.”