Retail and logistics firms repeat call to issue short-term visas to European drivers to fix shortage

Mon 23 Aug 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

hgv drivers

Logistics UK and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have called on the government to issue short-term visas to tempt European HGV drivers back to the UK.

They have written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warning that supply chain issues will worsen if a solution is not found.

They claimed there is a shortage of around 90,000 drivers at present, the BBC reports.

Double whammy

Following Brexit, there are around 25,000 fewer EU drivers working in the UK, the bodies pointed out.

The situation will get worse in the coming weeks due to schools returning and offices bringing more workers back, resulting in more deliveries during the already busy build-up to Christmas.

As well as asking for a review of the decision not to grant temporary work visas for EU drivers, the groups suggest:

  • Reform of the National Skills Fund to enable HGV driver training to be funded
  • More flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy to get trainees driving as soon as possible
  • Daily Covid testing facilities for HGV drivers

Lucozade impact

According to the Grocer, Lucozade is the latest brand to be hit by the crisis. In a tweet, it confirmed it had been experiencing “low stock distribution” of some of its products.

A spokeswoman for parent company Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I told the Grocer: “The deliveries of our drinks to some of our customers are being affected by the ongoing shortage of HGV drivers across the industry and the impact that has throughout the supply chain.”

Go straight to jail

Meanwhile, food producers and hospitality providers are so desperate for staff that they are trying to get day-release prisoners working for them, report the Guardian.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers – which represents butchers, abattoirs and processors – is exploring recruiting more current inmates and ex-offenders.

They are also looking to recruit ex-service personnel.