UK Government under pressure to act over tanker driver shortage
The UK's Road Haulage Association is continuing to plead for truck drivers to be included on the Shortage Occupation List as a short-term measure to ease the pressure on the UK supply chain while a UK-based workforce is trained up.
The country has a shortage of around 100,000 drivers following the double impact of COVID-19 and Brexit that saw many European workers return to the continent.
This has left supermarket shelves empty as food supplies have not been able to be delivered while the shortage has also forced petrol stations to close due to the inability to replenish fuel stocks.
Duncan Buchanan, RHA policy director for England and Wales, added that work in the haulage industry was an attractive career for people, but that it is taking a long time to get trained.
He said: "We’re calling for government to make training to be an HGV driver more accessible and more affordable, as we tackle the UK’s shortage."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hit back and said Brexit was not to blame for the current HGV driver shortage that has hampered the UK’s supply of petrol and diesel.
He told Sky News: “I have seen people point to Brexit as the culprit here when in fact they are wrong. Not only are there very large and even larger shortages in other EU countries like Poland and Germany, which clearly can’t be because of Brexit.
“But actually because of Brexit I have been able to change the law and alter the way our driving tests operate in a way that I could not have done if we were still part of the EU.
“So Brexit has actually provided part of the solution of giving more slots available to HGV tests and a lot more, twice as many available as before the pandemic."
Earlier in the summer the bosses of leading haulage company sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnston and raised these concerns that have come true.
The letter said intervention from government was now the only way to avert "critical supply chains failing at an unprecedented and unimaginable level".
The letter was signed by the CEOs of a raft of logistics groups, including Eddie Stobart, Wincanton, XPO Logistics and KUEHNE + NAGEL, as well as the heads of industry groups including the Food and Drink Federation, British Frozen Food Federation, Cold Chain Federation, British Beer and Pub Association and the British Meat Producers Association.