The BRC and Logistics UK have written to the government today demanding further action to tackle the driver shortage, with the supply chain set to come under further pressure this autumn.
In the letter to BEIS secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the trade bodies warned the new school year, more workers returning to the office and the start of the Christmas build-up would all affect the food and drink sector, which was already struggling to cope with the estimated 90,000 driver shortage.
BRC CEO Helen Dickenson and Logistics UK CEO David Wells have laid down three actions for government to take.
These are to review the decision to refuse temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU; to reform the National Skills Fund to finance training schemes; and to increase the DVSA’s testing capacity permanently to process the backlog of HGV driver tests. Current testing capacity is up from 2,000 to 3,000 per week.
The bodies cited these measures were necessary over and above steps government has already taken, including its decision to increase driver hours from nine to 10 hours per day, with two 11-hour shifts permitted twice a week.
The letter concluded: “The current shortfall of around 90,000 HGV drivers is placing unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains. While there was a shortage of HGV drivers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, these two events have exacerbated the situation; the pandemic halted driver training and testing for more than 12 months, while an estimated 25,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the transition period.”