HGV driver shortage puts UK business recovery at risk

May 26 | 2021

Almost one in ten logistics businesses in the UK say the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of their business, according to The Logistics Report 2021 released on 21 May by business group Logistics UK.

With the UK facing higher unemployment – predicted to be at least 5.5% this year – Logistics UK is urging the government to take immediate action to unlock access to these careers for new recruits to support the recovery of UK PLC.

Alex Veitch, General Manager for Public Policy at Logistics UK said, “Our report shows that 29% of logistics businesses anticipate that they will be unable to fill vacancies for HGV drivers this year and a further 14.5% expect long delays before filling a role. With the logistics industry in urgent need of these workers, Logistics UK is urging the government to provide interest free loans or grants to train or reskill potential employees and help recruit them into the industry.”

The business group is also urging the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to maintain its fast-track programme to catch-up on at least 30,000 driving tests that were postponed due to COVID-19 between March and December and adding to the shortage.

Mr Veitch continued, “With almost one in ten (9.8%) of logistics businesses reporting that the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of their business, the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers is stalling businesses’ recovery from the pandemic. With a large pool of potential candidates available – owing to the nation’s higher unemployment – we urge the government to make driver training affordable, accessible and attractive for all.”

The report also identified that staff shortages are expected across a range of operational roles in 2021, including fitter, mechanic and technician vacancies: 37% of respondents anticipated being unable to fill vacancies for these jobs this year.

Meanwhile the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has urged ministers to add HGV drivers to the ‘Home Office UK Shortage Occupation List’ to help fix the growing driver shortage. RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett told Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that government needed to do more to help the industry recruit new talent as the UK driver shortage exceeds 60,000.