Urgent action required to ease HGV driver shortages

Added: 10 May 2021

Urgent action required to ease HGV driver shortages

The RHA is calling for urgent Government action to ease a growing crisis in driver shortages. The shortage has been made worse by the introduction of IR35 tax changes and the return of many drivers to the EU during lockdown.

The RHA say that many pallet firms are having to extend-next day deliveries by up to five days.

The awareness-raising campaign by the RHA, highlights that the situation was critical even before the pandemic with many EU truckers heading home for obvious Brexit-related reasons.  Add to that the complete failure to test new drivers during lockdown has left a backlog of thousands of tests and potential drivers side-lined.

Covid-19 saw the introduction of IR35 delayed by one year but it’s now hitting many firms and drivers.

Haulage companies report that many drivers who were furloughed in the first lockdown have left the industry rather than survive on a pay cut.

The RHA is calling on the Government to act:

  • Driving tests – maximum priority for vocational drivers to clear the backlog. Potential lorry drivers who have undergone training programmes should be fast-tracked for driving tests.
  • Occupation Shortage List – the RHA insists that the Government puts lorry drivers on the list, thereby allowing EU and other foreign drivers to fill gaps. The requirement to attract foreign drivers is urgent as there is also a massive driver shortage in the EU.
  • Apprenticeships – the RHA say their sector have paid £500m into the Levy and have got back just £50m – a very unfair pay out for an industry with a critical staff and youth shortage.
  • Funding for training – lorry training is expensive and requires greater funding.
  • Driver facilities – the RHA campaign is pushing for better driver facilities. “We can’t expect people to want to join our industry if no toilets, wash facilities, or safe and secure parking is available.”

Furthermore, a relaxation in drivers’ hours will not help because they it does not deal with the fundamental underlying problems. According to the RHA, making people work longer hours isn’t the solution.

Rod McKenzie, RHA policy managing director said: “The RHA firmly believes that if voice of the industry isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption. This will impact many businesses ability to recover from the pandemic.  Time is tight and action now is critically important.”

A spokesperson for J Aston Transport Ltd commented that many younger drivers don’t want to be away from home “in a small tin can without any basic facilities.”

“The facilities provided by services and truck stops are a disgrace and not worth the money. Also, the number of rules for the driver can be challenging and daunting to younger drivers. In my opinion we should look towards the American transport industry to fix our problems. For example, larger cabs for the driver to have a few more of the home comforts, larger truck stops to accommodate all the trucks with a price cap, and an auditing board to ensure drivers are paying for what they get. Plus, proper washing facilities that are free or at least on point system like “loves” in the USA. If the industry became an enjoyable one it would entice many more drivers.”

How bad is the truck driver shortage?

There is a shortage of 76,000 HGV drivers in the UK, according to a report from ITV in 2020. This figure has grown from 59,000 in 2019.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) published a report that stated, “64% of transport and storage businesses now face severe skills shortages.” Another report predicts that the trucker shortage could grow to 257,000 drivers by 2022.  

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