Driver Shortage: RHA warns of hurricane of severe shortages

We have warned that the country could face a hurricane of severe shortages if the UK can’t secure more HGV drivers.

Our call for action comes as the UK faces a massive reduction in the number of qualified HGV drivers, which has been exacerbated by Brexit and recent IR35 tax changes.

The full effects of the driver shortage had been obscured by the downturn in demand from many sectors, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But with industries opening back up, the number of drivers who have left the profession, and the number who are still needed, is coming into stark relief.

RHA managing director Rod McKenzie told the Financial Times that the haulage industry is now facing a perfect storm. “To the public as opposed to the industry this is something of a quiet storm but it could soon turn into a hurricane with shortages evident, escalating stress and tension among suppliers and hauliers,” he said.

With HGV drivers from Europe returning home after the end of the Brexit transition period, and many self-employed drivers considering their future in the profession in light of the recent tax changes, a third issue has also hit the industry: a massive backlog of HGV tests.

An estimated 28,000 HGV driver tests have been cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, making it incredibly challenging to bring new drivers into the industry to replace those who are leaving the profession.

Last month we wrote to the Government warning that the UK could be facing empty shelves if the ongoing driver shortage isn’t tackled immediately. We have also laid out a series of key issues which must be dealt with by the Government, in order to prevent further shortages from affecting the UK as businesses try to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.