Two Transmode Trucks and a UK Driver

The national truck driver shortage is causing disruptions to businesses and chains across the UK, stemming from a combination of Brexit, Covid-19 and various other factors. According to the BBC, before Covid there was an estimated shortage of around 60,000 drivers, this figure has now risen to 100,000. 

In this article, we look at what’s causing the UK truck driver shortage and what is being done to try and tackle it. 

What Caused the National Truck Driver Shortage? 

The UK’s truck driver shortage has reached crisis levels as a result of several different factors, including an ageing workforce, drivers having to leave the country due to Brexit, Covid-19 and more. 

An estimated 14,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the Brexit transition period, according to Logistics UK. 

Brexit 

Although countries across Europe are experiencing HGV driver shortages too, the UK is reported be one of the hardest hit. 

This can be attributed in part to many European drivers leaving the country to return to work back at home or to begin working in a different country.  

Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium have called for the government to review the decision not to grant temporary work visas to HGV drivers from EU countries. This would act as a short-term solution whilst the backlog of drivers waiting for tests is cleared and new drivers are trained. 

Ageing Workforce 

The UK’s truck drivers are an ageing workforce, with 47% of drivers being over 50 and only 1% under 25. The shortage increases as more and more drivers approach retirement age because there aren’t enough new drivers joining the industry to replace them. 

The pandemic has only intensified this issue, with many being unable to take the HGV driver training and tests needed to become qualified and eligible to work in the industry. 

HGV Driver Test Backlog 

HGV driver tests were halted for most of 2020. According to RHA, 30,000 test slots were lost and only 15,000 drivers were able to successfully complete training – this figure is down from 25,000 the year before. 

What is Being Done to Tackle the Truck Driver Shortage? 

Various plans are being put together to meet the UK’s demand for truck drivers. 

Lobby Groups  

Two of the UK’s largest business groups, Logistics UK and British Retail Consortium have written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, urging the government to immediately put the following three policies in place: 

  1. Increase the DVSA’s testing capacity to allow tests placed on hold due to the pandemic to take place 
  1. Review the decision not to allow temporary visas for HGV drivers from the EU to supplement the UK’s domestic workforce 
  1. Reform the National Skills Fund to fund HGV driver training and inject flexibility into the Apprenticeship Levy 

Government Support 

Following pressure from haulage companies, lobbyists and retailers who have borne the brunt of supply shortages, the government is expected to release details of planned changes to the HGV driver testing process. 

The plans are expected to streamline the testing process so drivers can be fast track into the haulage industry and fill the critical demand for truck drivers. 

The BBC estimates that the new testing regime could put an extra 1,600 drivers on the road each week, providing that the current pass rate of 56% remains. 

The government has also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow for slightly longer journeys, when necessary, without compromising driver safety. 

Company-Specific Incentives 

Some companies that have been hit hard by the shortages are offering pay rises, bonuses, and other incentives to drivers in order to combat the shortage. 

Last month, John Lewis Partnership announced plans to increase the annual salaries of LGV drivers by up to £5,000 a year. In addition to this, the retailer is offering a generous welcome payment of £1,000 to new LGV drivers joining the business before November. 

Similarly, Tesco is offering new drivers a £1,000 joining bonus for new HGV drivers who join the company before the end of September. 

Become a Transport & Haulage Subcontractor with Transmode 

At Transmode, we’re always looking to build lasting partnerships with subcontractors we can trust, so we can keep putting the needs of our customers first. 

Following a short introductory period, we’re able to offer our subcontractors excellent terms on fuel and trailer hire, with weekly pay from the outset. 

If you’d like to apply to be a subcontractor with Transmode, fill out our Subcontractor Application Pack today. 

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