Following a report from BP that the HGV driver shortage has resulted in temporary closures of some forecourts from restocking delays, the U.K. has experienced queues at fuel stations across the country as people have panic bought fuel ahead of the prospect of further closures.
This is the latest development in a series of issues surrounding the HGV driver shortage, with big food brands and retailers such as Morrisons, Heineken, Haribo, and Nando’s already reporting disruptions in service due to difficulties in securing deliveries.
The U.K Government is being put under pressure from big brands to act on the shortage of HGV drivers, and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) have reported that there will need to be an additional 100,000 drivers recruited in order to meet the demand of the haulage industry.
What has caused the HGV driver shortage?
There is currently a shortage of HGV drivers across Europe, but the U.K. has been one of the hardest hit due to Brexit. When the U.K. was inside the single market, European drivers were able to come and go without border checks.
Since Brexit, many European companies and drivers have pivoted to meet the rising demand in the EU and avoid the risks surrounding customs clearance at the U.K. border.
In addition to losing Europe-based drivers to Brexit, many European nationals (living in the UK) returned to Europe after Brexit due to the uncertainties surrounding settlement status. Many more decided to return to Europe during the COVID19 pandemic, too, and have not returned.
COVID19 has also contributed to the HGV driver shortage by delaying the testing of new recruits, whilst simultaneously speeding up the retirement of some of the older, more vulnerable drivers. According to the RHA, there are currently 2000 drivers leaving the industry every week (mostly through retirement) but only 1000 being recruited during the same time.
The HGV driver shortage was already a problem at the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, when it was estimated that there was a shortage of 60,000. The current shortage of approximately 100,000 is increasing every week, so there is growing pressure on the U.K. Government to step in and assist the logistics industry.
What is the U.K. Government going to do about the shortage of drivers?
The U.K. Government has announced several initiatives to increase the amount of HGV drivers and ease the supply chain issues as soon as possible:
– Funding will be available for up to 4000 new drivers to train as new HGV drivers and launch their careers.
– Deployment of Ministry of Defence (MOD) examiners to be used to increase the amount of tests that can be taken so that more drivers can pass sooner.
– Everyone with a HGV license (that is not currently in employment) to be contacted to encourage them to return to the industry.
– Short term (3 month) visa restriction relief for over 5000 HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers so that the food industry is under less pressure in the build up to Christmas.
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