‘Perfect storm of HGV driver shortage perilously close’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Haulage staffing crisis: there is currently a shortfall of delivery drivers across the country (image: Getty/RistoArnaudov)
Haulage staffing crisis: there is currently a shortfall of delivery drivers across the country (image: Getty/RistoArnaudov)

Related tags Recruitment Food Beer delivery

The ongoing shortage of delivery drivers is nearing the “perfect storm” situation, potentially causing further issues for pubs.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has estimated the shortage of about 100,000 drivers, which is as a result of cancelled driving tests and Brexit.

A spokesperson for the RHA told The Morning Advertiser​: “Whether you're running a restaurant, or a big manufacturing business, there is a limit to how much stock you can keep on your premises.

“I'm sure people don't keep big stocks, especially with hospitality because you rely on fresh produce. This is a really big problem at the moment.

“If the drivers aren't there to move the goods, the goods won't leave the producers. It's a huge problem."

Driver shortfall

They said: “We keep seeing the 100,000 driver shortage figure, that's quite a conservative estimate. At the end of 2019 we were predicting a shortfall of about 60,000 then we had Brexit, which meant we saw at least 15,000 Eastern Europeans return home because it just wasn't economically viable to be here and send money home, they could do just as well by being at home.

“The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which is responsible for driving tests, had to cancel 40,000 tests because of Covid. This is how the figures stack up, which is why 100,000 is quite a conservative figure.”

However, the RHA were unsure as to when the shortage could ease and emphasised the need to highlight how drivers are skilled.

Perilously close

The spokesperson added: “We can't just assume this is going to be an issue that is a real pain at the moment but things will get better because actually they won't until the Government wakes up to the issue and takes action to actually address the route of the problem.

“The Home Office has a Skilled Worker Shortage Occupation List. HGV drivers, is a skilled occupation. We need to be on that skilled occupation list, but we're not on it.

“HGV drivers, the ones that ensured in the height of the pandemic, shops stayed stocked, hospitals got PPE yet now, when we are facing a real problem of our own, the Government refuses to acknowledge us.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett recently appeared on Sky News​, stating it would take at least a year and a half to train enough drivers to tackle the current shortage.

The trade body also called for officials to rethink self-isolation rules for commercial vehicle drivers alongside a 12-point action plan.

The spokesperson said: “We keep hearing and using the expression 'we're heading for a perfect storm', it's getting perilously close.”

In June, The Morning Advertiser ​reported the RHA had warned the driver shortage was then at “catastrophic proportions”​.

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