Army on standby to tackle food shortage due to the lack of HGV drivers

The UK currently has a shortage of HGV drivers, which is leading to widespread reports of food insecurity. Due to shortages of HGV Drivers, the UK Telegraph reported recently that 2000 military HGV drivers were available to stock food shelves in Britain.

Why is the such a HGV driver shortage?

There are many reasons that HGV Drivers are not available, but none has had the impact on declining driver numbers like COVID and Brexit.

David Jinks, M.I.L.T Head of Consumer Research at ParcelHero says: “Last October, ParcelHero published an Analysis of Government Migration Figures revealing that approximately a quarter million people from the EU have left the UK due to Covid, Brexit, and the start of the new year. It’s clear that this has led to a shortage in HGV drivers in the UK of around 70,000.

Kevin Buchanan (CEO Pall-Ex Group) stated that the combination of Brexit, Covid-19 and the driver shortage has compounded an ever-increasing danger for many years.

“Drivers are being forced to isolate and those who have decided to leave the industry as a result, along with a reduced talent pool due to European drivers not having the freedom to move into the UK, has led to a decline in the number of skilled drivers over the past 18 months.”

But Brexit and the pandemic don’t account for all the reasons there are for driver shortages.

The driver shortage can also be attributed to the fact that younger drivers are not being encouraged to enter the field.

Craig Stevens, the Managing Director of PallEx shareholder STD Developments Limited said that there should be more incentives for young people to drive HGVs.

“Providing support to train new drivers and forcing truck insurance companies into covering them would be a good step in solving the problem.”

Therefore, HGV drivers in the UK are on average 56 years old. 74% of Pall EX members report that driver shortages affect their business every day.

What’s been done to compound the HGV driver shortage?

To address the driver shortage, one of the main proposals was to temporarily extend HGV drivers’ working hours.

According to previous regulations, HGV drivers are allowed to drive for upto nine hours per day. After 4.5 hours, a driver must take a rest of at least 45 min.

Temporary regulations increased the daily limit to 10 hours, with an 11-hour day permitted up to twice per week.

This has led to numerous calls from the transport and logistics industries stating that increasing HGV driver hours is dangerous, so the temporary regulations are not being enforced across the country.

Simon Hobbs is Chief Executive Officer of Kinaxia Logistics. He stated that “Ensuring the safety of our colleagues and their wellbeing is our top priority.” It is at heart of all the values that support our business. It is essential for our team’s retention and recruitment of new drivers.

“We don’t feel that prolonging working hours is in safety of our drivers so we won’t enforce the measure.”

Temporary HGV driving regulations will apply until October 3rd 2021. However, they are limited in their effectiveness in dealing with food shortages.

What can I do to help prevent food shortage?

“To improve our situation, I’d love to see a relaxation to the CPC regulations allowing drivers who have lost their certification to come back in to the business and have 12 month grace to complete refresher courses,” stated Dave Webster (Managing Director) of Brocklehurst Transport, a Yorkshire-based transport service provider.

Dave adds: “The Government must encourage insurance companies to lower their minimum age from 25 years to 21 years, as this will allow more young drivers to join the industry.” This would be huge!

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), UK’s only trade association for road transport operators, has also stated that it requires access to EU and EEA labour in order to address the driver shortage. They have asked for the introduction a temporary worker visa for HGV-drivers.

RHA is calling for this occupation to also be added to the Home Office Occupation List.