UK Driver Shortage Escalating As COVID AndBrexitHighlight Their Importance
International logistics provider and parcel delivery firm ParcelHero warns that the shortage of drivers in the UK could lead to the country having empty supermarket shelves for home deliveries.
According to the firm, the departure of EU workers that happened as a result of the new employment rules that were put in place due to Brexit led to the loss of 70,000 HGV drivers. This sudden drop in the number of people who can transport goods resulted in food wholesalers demanding the government to put army drivers on standby to compensate.
ParcelHero Head of Consumer Research David Jinks says that home deliveries of food and goods are already being hit by their driver shortages, with stores facing stock shortages. They say that UK could end up facing shortages as severe as the ones during the early days of the COVID lockdown, which means that staple foods might end up needing to be rationed.
Jinks says that this problem could’ve been avoided; their analysis of the UK government’s data in October 2020 noted how thousands of EU drivers and warehouse operatives left the country in order to steer clear of Brexit regulations, which was followed up by COVID-19 slamming the brakes on the training of new lorry drivers across the country.
Jinks says that the conditions for UK retailers and their supply chain partners are very delicate. Ken Murphy, CEO of the Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket franchise, has gone on record saying that their company has had to make serious adjustments to account for the shortfall, while other wholesalers have stated that they’ve already gone past their crisis points as they try to get their products to supermarkets, pubs, schools, and care homes across the country.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has called for military drivers to be put on standby to assist if needed, while the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the organisation representing freight transport companies in the UK, have asked for the government to temporarily drop working hours restrictions for drivers, and to list the profession of ‘delivery driver’ on the country’s Shortage Occupation list.
The RHA has even gone so far as to send a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding the issue of driver shortages and the ensuing supply shortage and empty shelves, with RHA CEO Richard Bunett saying that the problem is undeniable, and it is only getting worse.
This letter to the PM was also co-signed by other major figures in the UK logistics industry, including XPO Logistics Chief Executive Eddie Stobart, as well as organisations like the British Frozen Food Federation and the Food and Drink Federation.
Jinks says that other organisations in the UK are calling for the government to temporarily remove the limits on how many non-UK workers can enter the country as a result of the issue. The government, however, has insisted that employers in the country should focus on building up the country’s domestic workforce, instead of having to call on workers from outside the country.
ParcelHero says that UK drivers need to be properly recognised and compensated for the essential role they play in ensuring that supply chains and the industries and platforms, like Amazon marketplace, that rely upon them stay working. In addition, they’ve stated that they feel that the UK government needs to work with the EU to clarify issues like Northern Ireland deliveries, and customs delays.