Online retailer Approved Foods is calling for support for the retail industry to recruit drivers, now in demand in the wake of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The call comes after the Road Haulage Association and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) have warned that the driver shortage is now at crisis point, with an estimated shortage of at least 70,000 drivers. This is being put down to Brexit and Covid-19, with delays in driver training and testing added to an exodus of European lorry drivers following the UK’s departure from the customs union and single market. The two organisations are among a number of logistics bodies that have now written to the Prime Minister, stressing the need for action.
Andy Needham, MD at Approved Food, added: “Lockdown and Brexit have amplified the challenges that already existed in the logistics sector, and these have now reached critical levels.
“There were already issues surrounding attracting younger workers to the industry, competition from warehouse jobs and a skills gap caused in part by the expense of training HGV drivers.
“With the restrictions now in place dictating how firms can recruit from Europe, there needs to be more incentive and training for people living in the UK to want to work as drivers to help both the food service and logistics industry get back to where they once were.
“Yet, despite the shortage, we need to see a more open attitude to who has access to supermarket surplus food in order to prevent it from being binned unnecessarily.”
The RHA and other organisations are warning in a letter to the Prime Minister that empty shelves are already apparent in supermarkets and the situation will worsen in coming weeks.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett concludes the letter: “It is our collective view that there has never been a more challenging time for this industry and we urge you to take these decisive steps to ensure that we can continue to maintain the UK’s integrated and finely balanced supply chains.”
Parcelhero’s David Jinks said earlier this week that the effects of the shortage would soon be felt on home deliveries and on supermarket shelves.