6 July 2021
With calls to address the problem of driver recruitment growing in recent weeks, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has now brought together a range of firms and organisations in the logistics and food and drink sectors to press the Prime Minister for practical help.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, available — here, representatives from Freightlink Europe, the Cold Chain Federation, Eddie Stobart, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Food and Drink Federation warn that supply chains are likely to fail unless action is taken.
It goes on to state that, “empty shelves are already becoming apparent and, if not urgently addressed, the situation will only get worse”.
The RHA highlights that the shortage has now reached 100,000 and attributes this to a combination of: (a) drivers returning to their country of origin (and not returning) because of Brexit and the pandemic; (b) the number of drivers retiring and not being replaced; and (c) the complete shutdown of vocational driving tests during 2020.
In addition, it suggests that the introduction of IR35 has resulted in agency labour withdrawing their services as “low-profit margin logistics businesses (typically 2-3%) cannot sustain demands for £5-£6 per hour rate increases”.
Advice on what the industry needs
The Prime Minister is urged to introduce:
a temporary worker visa for HGV drivers and for this occupation to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List (SOL)
a taskforce to work towards achieving a sustainable way of recruiting and training a homegrown workforce
the Defra Food Resilience Industry Forum (which was recently disbanded).
Please also see our other recent articles about the problem of driver recruitment — (“Shortage of HGV drivers places business recovery at risk” and “Government action needed to solve driver shortage”).