Richard Burnett: Driver shortage will undoubtedly hit the consumer

We’ve warned that the UK’s ongoing HGV driver shortage will inevitably have an impact on the consumer, as the price of goods on the shelves is set to rise.

The UK is facing a massive reduction in the number of qualified HGV drivers, which has been exacerbated by Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and recent IR35 tax changes.

Until recently, the full effects of the driver shortage were hidden by the downturn in demand from many sectors, caused by the pandemic. However, with industries opening back up, the number of drivers who have left the profession is coming into stark relief, as is the number of drivers we need to recruit and train.

Currently, the UK needs 60,000 new HGV drivers to eradicate the current shortage. With such a huge need for more truckers, it’s only a matter of time before the cost of transporting goods increases further, and that additional cost is passed on to the public.

The Daily Star this weekend reported that ‘the crisis has seen drivers wages increase by 20%’.
Speaking to the paper, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said that “undoubtedly, this will hit the consumer.”

Richard also sent a letter to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, telling him that the Government must play a part in securing much-needed HGV drivers.

“If we do not do something soon the industry will be unable to maintain the integrated supply chains and cope with artificial spikes caused by hot weather and the easing of lockdown, increasing demand for food and drink into supermarkets, pubs and restaurants and goods into retail outlets.”

He said easing allowing HGV drivers from abroad to live and work in the UK would help in the short term, but he warned against relaxing drivers hours amid concerns that truckers are already working to their limits and are exhausted. “We really need to consider the impact of HGV driver mental health and of course road safety.”

He urged ministers help the industry resolve the driver shortage in the longer term.  “We must work collectively and towards a sustainable way to recruit and train a homegrown workforce so our reliance on foreign labour lessens over time.”

Read the full letter from Richard Burnett to Grant Shapps here.