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Trucking Industry UK

Logistics UK ‘optimistic’ that driver shortage is easing

The Government is playing 'Russian roulette' with road users' safety, a union claims.

Logistics UK says there are signs that the country’s shortage of HGV drivers is improving.

The trade association represents haulage and freight businesses and says that the number of lorry drivers leaving the sector is now beginning to ease.

They also highlight that more trained drivers are coming through the system which is also boosting their optimism.

However, in a report, the organisation says that there needs to be more action from industry and government to make the haulage sector more attractive to new driver recruits.

Haulage sector had 44,000 fewer lorry drivers

In their report, they say that in early autumn the haulage sector had 44,000 fewer lorry drivers than in the autumn of 2019.

Over the same period, there was a 25.6% increase in lorry driver tests and a threefold increase in the number of drivers applying for vocational provision licences.

Also, the pay for HGV drivers in the UK has risen by 10% on average in the nine months to October.

The organisation’s policy director, Elizabeth de Jong, says that the issue is now seeing ‘green shoots of recovery’ and that over the coming months, growing numbers of drivers will be trained to boost overall numbers.

‘Average driver pay surged 10%’

She said: “Although average driver pay surged 10% in the nine months to October 2021 in order to retain existing staff and attract new drivers, smaller fleet operators are still not back to full fleet capacity after the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown, and their inability to compete for drivers by offering higher wages appears to be hindering their efforts to recruit new staff. 

“Government announcements to help address issues across our sector, including increasing driver testing throughput, funding Skills Bootcamps to train HGV drivers and a commitment to improved overnight parking provision, have been at pace.

“There needs to be continued focus from government to ensure they are delivered, so business and industry can take full advantage and continue to raise awareness of logistics and the opportunities it offers.”

Ms de Jong added: “The flexibility and resilience of our sector in coping with a smaller workforce, coupled with issues caused by Brexit and supply chain disruption caused by worldwide container shipping issues, have been incredible.

“And with higher wages now helping to plug the gaps in employment for companies that can afford them, and an increase in HGV driver tests of 25.6% and a three-fold increase in applications for vocational provisional licences, there is hope that the shortage of HGV drivers will ease. However, this is not cause for complacency just yet.”

Logistics UK also gave evidence at a recent Transport Select Committee where they raised the poor lorry parking facilities as a major issue for the HGV driver shortage.

The organisation also raised the issue of the EU’s proposed Entry Exit System (EES), which would see the introduction of new customs checks at the borders of Dover and Folkestone which will cause delays to supply chain operators.

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