News / World

AFP
Wire Service
2 minute read
19 Oct 2021
11:01 pm

UK truck driver shortage not improving -industry

AFP

The RHA has repeatedly warned that Britain faces a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers, contributing to the nation's snarled up containers ports.

Picture: iStock

Britain’s chronic truck driver shortage, sparked by Brexit and coronavirus fallout, shows no sign of improvement despite government efforts, industry bosses said Tuesday.

Leaders from food, haulage and recruitment sectors appeared before a parliamentary committee, amid increasing anxiety over Britain’s supply chain crunch that has emptied some supermarket shelves.

“Things are very challenged at the moment,” said Duncan Buchanan, policy director at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) industry body.

“There are widespread shortages of truck drivers, which are leading delays and frustrated trips,” he told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee.

“Among our members we are still getting reports that this hasn’t eased at all.”

The RHA has repeatedly warned that Britain faces a shortage of 100,000 truck drivers, contributing to the nation’s snarled up containers ports.

“Things are not visibly getting better at this stage, and I know there are a number of measures that have been put in place — stepping up training, stepping up tests — but on the ground that is not having much of an effect,” noted Buchanan.

Global bottlenecks caused by reopenings from Covid lockdowns and foreign workers leaving Britain after Brexit have caused an acute shortage of truck drivers, creating nationwide supply chain issues across the country.

The UK government last week eased rules to allow foreign truck drivers to make an unlimited number of pickups and deliveries.

It has also launched other measures, such as 5,000 three-month temporary visas for non-UK truck drivers.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said Britain has “enough food” supplies but transportation was still being impacted.

And he warned that soaring food inflation — alongside rising commodity, energy and wage costs — also posed a large challenge.

“The committee really needs to think seriously about inflation,” Wright told lawmakers.

“In hospitality, inflation is running between 14 percent and 18 percent, which is terrifying.”

He added that soaring inflation was “a bigger scourge than almost anything because it discriminates against the poor” who are disproportionately hit harder than the rich.