Despite a further freeze on fuel duty, the road haulage industry was left feeling cold by this month’s Budget speech – and it’s all down to the ongoing concerns about driver shortages.

On paper, the Budget seemed like a good one for road haulage companies, who were handed yet another fuel duty freeze, saving an estimated £21,000 per truck since 2011.

This was not the only freeze – HGV vehicle excise duty was fixed as well, which the Road Haulage Association said “is an appropriate recognition of the vital role trucks play throughout the economy”.

But the big disappointment for the RHA was the lack of any specific funding measures aimed at making it easier and more affordable for new drivers to enter the industry.

With stricter controls on driver competence and ongoing training, some existing drivers are taking early retirement, and it is likely to take longer for new entrants to gain the necessary qualifications.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We have put forward a strong, clear argument for why funding is necessary and appropriate. Our lobby for funding support will be even stronger in the coming weeks.”

RHA