There has been some good news for self employed van drivers making a living from courier jobs, with the Government’s recent announcement on reforms to the licensing rules.
In an attempt to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, but in recognition of the important role vans and couriers play in the economy, the Government has said it will increase the size of vans covered by the B-category licence from 3,500kg to 4,250kg.
The category B licence is the same standard licence that covers drivers of cars, making it easy for individuals to set up a business as a self employed van driver undertaking courier jobs without having to pay for an additional licence.
The change has been instated to allow businesses and self employed drivers working on courier jobs to upgrade to electric, natural gas, LPG or hydrogen powered vehicles which are often heavier than their diesel counterparts.
Previously vehicles over 3,500kg would require the driver to either limit themselves to lighter loads or to apply for a category C licence. The category C licence application is more expensive and can often carry potential medical restrictions, which might require a medical examination for the driver. The Government considered that this would be an unnecessary obstruction and deterrent to drivers who would otherwise embrace the new cleaner ‘green’ technology.
Jesse Norman, Transport Minister, said: “Vans have become essential to our economy and are vital for builders, small businesses and delivery drivers. We have more of them on our roads than ever before. That’s a good sign for the economy, but our challenge is to try to tackle their impact on air quality. We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”
The plans are now open to public consultation.
More Vans on the Road
According to Road Traffic statistics, light goods vehicle traffic has increased by nearly a quarter over the last ten years. In 2016 records show that there were 49.1 billion vans on the road, 23% more than in 2006. As 96% of this traffic is diesel powered, and often concentrated in towns and cities, the Government felt this was an ecological and health issue which needed to be urgently addressed.
What This Will Mean for Self Employed Drivers
For those of you who own your own van, this will mean that when it is time to renew your vehicle it will be much easier to upgrade to the new ‘green’ options, which come with their own tax and Congestion Charge benefits. While the heavy batteries of electric vans would have pushed many of the larger vehicles into the Category-C bracket before, these will now be available to buy and drive with an ordinary Category-B licence.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day self employed courier jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.