The HGV driver crisis

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The shortage of HGV drivers has reached crisis levels in the UK, and measures are now urgently needed to address it. Stricter border rules following Brexit combined with a surge in demand for drivers during the COVID pandemic to cope with the increase in online sales have all contributed to nationwide shortages. Many European drivers who made up a large part of HGV drivers returned home, with not all wanting to return due to better opportunities to make money elsewhere.

On top of this, the pandemic has created an estimated 6-month backlog in new HGV driver tests being given, and now the Road Haulage Association (RHA) are predicting that the shortfall of drivers in the UK is at around 100,000 with signs to show this number increasing.

As a result, there is now a huge call on the government to better protect the industry. Like many other businesses similar to ourselves, we have seen our day-to-day operations and planning significantly impacted by the pandemic as firms nationwide struggle to ensure all loads are covered and delivered safely. Whilst the reopening of the majority of businesses in the UK has long been needed, the limited number of drivers now in the profession paired with online sales increasing has further exacerbated the situation. Shops are seeing a shortage of goods with recent examples including McDonald’s milkshake supply as well as Costa, Greggs & Subway all facing struggles.

With drivers now in such high demand, only a limited number of companies are in the position to pay the increasingly high wages. These higher fees affect profit margins and as a result, businesses have to be careful to not out price a job nor make the customer feel that they are paying an extra premium due to the shortage, potentially leading to a loss in business for themselves

As well as urgent, short-term measures to get the industry out of the crisis, long-term solutions are needed to encourage workers to join, and re-join, the profession. This will put the industry in a better position to meet the demand from activities such as online shopping that’s only set to increase further in the future.

In a Logistics UK survey [1], almost 1 in 10 logistics companies cited recruitment as an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of the industry and 37% of companies anticipate being unable to fill vacancies in 2021.

To increase the number of HGV drivers in the UK, Caribou is calling for a number of impediments, such as obtaining a license, the costs of Diver CPCs and medicals, to be addressed. This must then be followed by government action to increase training and loan schemes for lorry drivers, as well as incentives to attract workers to apprenticeship schemes in the industry.

Let us know how you’ve been affected by the HGV driver shortage and what measures you think can be taken going forward.

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