The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has upgraded its estimate of the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK to 100,000 as delays at testing stations prevent newly qualified drivers from getting on the road.
According to the Loadstar, the UK Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) cancelled “at least” 30,000 HGV tests last year due to Covid-19. One haulier said it had 40 drivers waiting for tests.
An RHA spokesperson said the new shortage figure factored in 15,000 Eastern European drivers that returned home, as well as the cancelled tests and claimed “a shortage of 100,000 is probably quite conservative”.
The Grocer reported that Tesco is throwing away 50 tonnes of fresh food a week because it doesn’t have enough lorry drivers to get it to stores.
Industry figures are warning of worsening supply chain problems.
Call in the army
James Bielby, chief executive officer of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, has urged the government to call in the army, reports iNews.
“We are concerned enough to suggest that the government considers having Army trucks on standby to ensure there are enough vehicles and drivers to distribute food,” he said.
Other staff shortages could lead to “inevitable” problems in the food supply chain, reports the Mirror. A lack of EU workers in packaging, production and warehousing is already affecting some products, according to the Cold Chain Federation chief executive Shane Brennan.
“It’s going to be a rolling problem – there will be outages day by day. The supply chain is struggling,” he said.