The HGV Driver Shortage Crisis. How Bad Will It Get?

Recently we have all been aware of the fuel crisis partly “fuelled” by misinformation in the media causing panic buying but alongside a very real and growing problem in the UK of HGV driver shortages.

Retailers are now also warning that there will most likely be significant disruption in the run-up to Christmas with popular items becoming scarce on our supermarket shelves.

So why is there an HGV driver shortage, is the problem really as big as it seems and what can be done to fix it?

Why Is There a Driver Shortage?

The UK currently needs 1000,000 more drivers to meet demand according to the Road Haulage Association. Rod McKensie of the (RHA) told Sky News recently it is a “critical situation” and a “cocktail of chaos” had led to the crisis.

Brexit

The facts are that 20,000 European drivers have left the UK for good due to Brexit. The uncertainty of life in the UK for those drivers has forced many to leave the UK for work elsewhere within the EU. There are some differences of opinion depending on which Political party you listen to but the facts are we are losing drivers quicker than they can be replaced.

Retiring drivers add to the problem with almost 2000 drivers retiring/leaving the industry every week and only 1000 are joining the industry over the same period of time. it is worth noting the average age of HGV drivers is 55 and only 1% are under the age of 25.

Rod McKensie says

“We’ve got more drivers leaving than joining so as every week goes by so there’s something new in the supply chain that’s creaking and crumbling.”

Tax Changes

Changes to the rules of how people work off of the payroll have also been blamed for people leaving the industry. The reform of tax rule IR35 to prevent workers from setting up limited companies through which they can pay less tax and National Insurance has created fewer self-employed drivers and under “employed” status are now being paid 25% lower in earnings.

The Future

The government has announced temporary visas for 5,000 HGV drivers to encourage more EU drivers to come back to the UK, but this is not a suitable long term solution.

HGV driving tests relaxed

The transport secretary also announced earlier this month that tests will be relaxed to allow 50,000 more tests to be completed in an attempt to tackle driver shortages leading to Christmas.

The Changes Are as Follows:

The Government has confirmed that it will scrap the car and trailer driving test to streamline testing procedures. The B+E test requirement for drivers who qualified after 1 January 1997 will be dropped as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) looks to free up examiners to carry out HGV tests

• Tests will be made shorter, with the reversing exercise element removed and the uncoupling and recoupling exercise for trailer tests removed – and they will not have to be tested separately by a third party

• Articulated vehicle drivers will no longer have to get a licence for a smaller vehicle first. The government says this will allow about 20,000 more HGV tests each year and means drivers can gain licences and enter the industry more quickly.

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