A shortfall of up to 70,000 HGV drivers in the UK is likely to soon have even greater consequences than those already seen, according to ParcelHero. It warns customers to expect empty shelves and delays to home deliveries.
ParcelHero says that around a quarter of a million EU workers fled the UK in response to the new Brexit employment rules, with a shortfall of up to 70,000 HGV drivers in the UK as a result.
“Home deliveries of food and goods are already being impacted by the driver shortage, with some stores also running low on stock,” said David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero.
He believes the situation could get even worse. “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. 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.”
Food wholesalers, and even Tesco, have already warned of the impact of the shortfall and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is calling for army drivers to be put on standby to protect vulnerable communities where food deliveries are at risk. It says fresh produce suppliers are already being forced to dump supplies of fruit and vegetables for lack of delivery drivers.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents freight transport companies, has also called on the Government to temporarily suspend drivers’ working hours restrictions and place the role of delivery driver on the UK’s Shortage Occupation list.
Jinks called for two big changes to happen to ensure the UK has the drivers it needs. “First, it’s time UK drivers were more widely recognised and compensated for the essential role they play in supporting industry and retailers. Secondly, it is high time the UK Government worked with the EU to clear up issues around Customs delays and charges, Northern Ireland deliveries and increased transport costs.”