The East Midlands Chamber’s chief executive has urged the government to take urgent action to tackle the HGV driver shortage in the UK.
Mr Knowles made the comments surrounding the current shortage of drivers in the UK and the ongoing fuel shortage which has seen pumps running out of fuel and supermarket shelves empty of certain items with further stock shortages approaching.
Scott said “While we welcome the Governments intervention to offer temporary visas for 5,000 lorry drivers and to suspend competition law between oil firms, this is merely a sticking a tiny plaster on a gaping wound”
“The issue of HGV driver shortages existed long before Brexit and Covid-19, with the logistics industry losing workers to retirement and other sectors, while struggling to attract younger employees.
But the reality of an estimated 25,000 European drivers returning home this year has left a huge hole in capacity, with the issue now exacerbated by driver training and testing being halted for more than a year due to the pandemic.
The fuel shortage has brought all these complex supply chain issues to a head, but other sectors had already been feeling the impact in recent months, including in retail where shelves are noticeably short of usual stock.
The common thread here is that demand is returning strongly – footfall is up in town and city centre high streets, and more people are using their cars again, which together are boosting hard-hit sectors like retail, hospitality and leisure – and this is outstripping the capacity to supply.”
Ultimately, policymakers have taken for granted how supply chains work and failed to heed the warning signs that have been flashing for some time.”
Scott Knowles said he had also spoken to an East Midlands haulage form which said they had lorries sitting on tarmac without drivers as far back as June noting this would not be a temporary problem and not one that can be solved overnight.
Mr Knowles also said without further action the the government the UK faces probable serious damage to the UK economy due to stifled growth, especially around Christmas time.