Whether you’re engaged in regular international shipments or have simply read the news, you’ll likely know that we’re in the middle of a significant shortage of HGV drivers. The first time this came to the awareness of the general public was in September 2021. UK drivers were faced with mile-long queues just to fill their cars up with petrol. Prices soared and sales were capped in an attempt to distribute fuel equally. Reports from Reuters showed that between 50-90% of all petrol stations in certain locations across England completely ran out of fuel to offer their customers. And, the key reason for this was a significant lack of HGV drivers to deliver the petrol and diesel in the first place. So, how is the government responding and when can we expect this issue to be solved?
Why is there an HGV Driver Shortage?
There is a multitude of reasons why the UK is facing this shortage. Some are topical, having occurred because of causes outside of our control. But, recent reports have shown that existing drivers have long hailed poor recruitment processes and a lack of proper care for drivers as reasons why the shortage was always on the horizon. Other causes include:
- A significant proportion of European drivers have returned to their home countries following the implementation of COVID restrictions.
- New immigration laws connected to the UK separating from the EU single market have made it more challenging for international drivers to work freely here.
- The decline in the value of the pound against the euro has made it less financially viable for many drivers.
- Most existing HGV drivers are 55 years old and older. This means that the number of drivers choosing retirement is increasing daily.
- Training is expensive (sometimes up to £7,000 in total) which is putting off younger drivers. There is an estimated 1,000 driver shortage between those hanging up their keys and those being onboarded.
- Lack of available testing due to COVID-19 related closures.
What is the Government Doing?
Understanding why we’re seeing this shortage is one thing. The solutions needed to bring the road freight industry back to working capacity are key. The UK Government has announced several changes to existing supply chains in a bid to support them. These include:
- Relaxed driver’s hours until 10th Feb 2022.
- An increase in HGV drivers added to visa schemes.
- £500,000 added to the £20 million in the Mode Shift Revenue Support grant scheme which will redirect goods from road freight to either rail or sea.
- New training boot camps to encourage uptake in HGV driving as a profession.
- Incentive payments, apprenticeships and vocational training are offered through the adult education budget.
- 90% more HGV driving tests in comparison to pre-pandemic.
- Incentives to re-entice existing HGV drivers back into the profession.
It is difficult to predict how long the current shortage could be. Reports in 2021 suggested some let-up in Spring 2022 with a call to the government to ensure that visas and an increase in salaries are both prioritised. Here at Radius Warehouse & Logistic Services, we specialise in finding you the most suitable solution for your international freight needs. With the current delays and shortages, it may be more suitable for you to redirect your goods to another form of transport or take advantage of alternative solutions. Our experienced and highly skilled team can provide support to help minimise the issues that HGV driver challenges place on your business. Give us a call today to discuss this in further detail or to get a quote.