70,000 driver shortfall could ‘lead to empty shelves’

A shortfall of up to 70,000 HGV drivers in the UK could lead to delays, empty shelves, and higher prices, according to ParcelHero.

The home delivery company said that food wholesalers are now demanding that army drivers are put on standby to fill the gap.

Last week the Road Haulage Association (RHA) met with the government to address the “growing peril” to UK supply chains from the worsening driver shortage.

“The need for action is clear and urgent,” RHA chief executive Richard Burnett told the UK roads minister, Baroness Vere. “We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is getting worse – the situation must be addressed right now".

At the meeting, the RHA re-emphasised the need for urgent actions to deal with the immediate shortage and highlighted issues around driver training and apprenticeships, Driver CPC, short-term access to non-UK labour, parking and facilities for drivers, and “the need to treat drivers and the sector with the respect they deserve.”

“Home deliveries of food and goods are already being impacted by the driver shortage, with some stores also running low on stock,” said head of consumer research at ParcelHero, David Jinks. “We could soon be facing shortages as bad as those at the start of the first lockdown, which could mean a return to the rationing of staple foods.”

“The reason is all too obvious. Our analysis of Government figures last October showed thousands of EU drivers and warehouse operatives fleeing the UK to avoid Brexit regulations. Many EU citizens didn’t meet the Government’s proposed criteria for skilled work visas. This mass exodus was exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19, which brought the training of new lorry drivers to a standstill.”

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