This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

The HGV driver shortage eased significantly in Q3 with 30,000 drivers lost during the pandemic returning to the business.

Analysis by logistics consultancy Driver Require, based on the ONS quarterly labour survey, showed a 40% recovery in the drop in numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, the industry is still facing a steady flow of drivers leaving the profession, with around 9,000 drivers under 45 exiting in Q3, the Grocer reports.

From 'crisis' to 'severe'

Kieran Smith, CEO of Driver Require, said the report presented “startling news” and showed the shortage was moving to “severe” rather than “crisis” levels.

The number of HGV delivery drivers grew from 233,000 in Q2 to 261,000 in Q3, still short of the 301,000 in workforce before the pandemic.

As previously reported in the IOE&IT Daily Update, the government has introduced a range of measures to try and tackle the estimated 100,000 shortfall in HGV drivers that have exacerbated the supply chain crisis.

Government actions

These have included a review of compulsory training, promises of investment in trucker facilities and short-term visas to tempt EU drivers to work in Britain.

Global Cold Chain News reports that said Shane Brennan, CEO of the Cold Chain Federation, told the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday that there should be no cause for concern about food shortages over the Christmas period.

However, he said pressures on the supply chain meant there had been a strategic simplification in the range of products, with effects including reduced profitability for supply chain businesses which have already been through a very difficult two years.

Dry Christmas?

Meanwhile Sky reports that nearly 50 wine and spirit firms are warning of an alcohol shortage this Christmas due to the “delivery chaos” caused by the HGV driver crisis.

Members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) have called on transport secretary Grant Shapps to take urgent action, including extending the temporary visa scheme beyond February, helping smooth congested freight routes from ports, and providing updates on how many new driver licences were being processed by the DVLA.