Haulage sector seeks solutions to critical shortage of HGV drivers holding up supply chains

Thu 17 Jun 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

UK supply chains are being hit by a severe shortage of lorry drivers, with SMEs bearing the brunt as larger companies lure away drivers with more lucrative pay, reports suggest.

David Lunt, managing director of the National Buying Consortium, which buys goods collectively for its small wholesaler members, told the Loadstar that orders once being delivered in three days were now taking more than two weeks to deliver.

'Silly salaries'

“We have to contend with the larger companies touting for drivers, offering silly salaries,” he said. “One of our members that supplies around 40 stores told me that, in one week, four of his drivers quit because a much larger company offered them more money.”

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has said the shortage of HGV drivers is critical and could impact food deliver, reports Wholesale News.

FWD has asked for a temporary extension of drivers hours to handle increased pressure on the driver fleet as hospitality reopens.

No new drivers

According to TI Insight, a combination of factors have led to a 70,000 shortfall of drivers, including the inability to train drivers during the pandemic and a decline in the number of European drivers working in the UK.

Representatives of UK trade bodies met with roads minister, Baroness Vere yesterday to highlight the driver shortage, reports Global Cold Chain News.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is getting worse – the situation must be addressed right now.”

EU workers going

Figures from a jobsite survey show a 36% reduction in EU citizens looking for UK work, reports the Guardian. Tougher post-Brexit immigration rules seem to be the reason as clicks on ad from non-EU applicants were down by just 1%.

Low-paid jobs in hospitality, the care sector and warehouses recorded the biggest declines at 41%.

The meat industry is already cutting production because of labour shortages, the FT reports.

The British Poultry Council said production is down 10% since Easter, while the British Meat Processors Association said some companies were within a week of failing to meet retailer’s orders and saying they couldn’t take animals from farms.

Elsewhere the construction industry faces a shortage of specialist labour due to EU workers leaving the UK, reports the FT.

According to the Express, farm workers have seen wages soar to £20 an hour due to chronic labour shortages.

Call on government

Some industries are calling on the government to relax immigration rules to allow EU workers into the UK. Brexit-backer Tim Martin, the boss of Wetherspoons’ pubs has called for a visa scheme to allow him to tackle a shortage of workers, the Telegraph reported.