Greg Hands – 2021 Statement on Fees for Military Drivers During Fuel Crisis

The statement made by Greg Hands, the Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on 27 October 2021.

The Secretary of State will be using powers under the Energy Act 2013 to increase the hourly rate for use of military drivers paid by hauliers in an ESCALIN deployment.

In response to the disruption to the availability of fuel in late September, the Government deployed Operation ESCALIN, on the 27 September. ESCALIN is a long-standing fuel supply contingency measure jointly managed by my Department and the Ministry of Defence to make trained military drivers available to support fuel deliveries. A total of 222 drivers were deployed to civilian haulage companies that participate in the scheme.

It has always been the intention that the hauliers who make use of Operation ESCALIN should be required to make a contribution to the costs that is in line with the costs of employing civilian drivers, although this is below the full cost to the taxpayer of the deployment. The current charge to hauliers for the use of a military driver in an ESCALIN deployment is set at £25 per hour, per driver. This price was set in 2013 and has remained unchanged since. During this nine-year period the cost of labour has increased and I would like the price to reflect this change.

A direction under section 148(3)(b) of the Energy Act 2013 was made to increase the hourly price from £25 to £28.51. This will take effect on 28 October. I believe this direction is fair and proportionate as it will now take account of inflationary price increases from 2013 calculated using the consumer price inflation index. However, the Secretary of State reserves the right to make further changes to the charging regime if that becomes necessary.

My Department will work with hauliers to ensure that use of military personnel is continued for only as long as absolutely necessary. The Secretary of State reserves the right to withdraw military support once we are confident that the fuel supply system as a whole is adequate to meet normal demand, irrespective of the position of individual companies.