HGV driver shortage causes supply problems for businesses

A shortage of HGV drivers in the UK is causing serious problems for businesses, delaying deliveries and causing stock shortages.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), a trade association for road transport operators, estimates that the UK needs 60,000 more lorry drivers than it currently has, while Logistics UK claims the shortfall is actually as high as 90,000. One of the reasons for the shortage is the Covid-19 pandemic which meant fewer people were able to take their HGV driving tests and join the haulage industry.

According to the RHA, about 30,000 driving tests for would-be HGV drivers were cancelled as a result of restrictions designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.  And Logistics UK, which represents freight owners, says the current backlog for lorry driving tests is 45,000.

The lack of new drivers getting their HGV licences, combined with Brexit making it more difficult for people from the EU to work in the UK, has caused a serious shortage in personnel. An estimated 25,000 European lorry drivers have quit the country since Britain left the EU.

There have also been major issues with drivers being forced to isolate because they have either caught coronavirus themselves or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Some businesses have started offering higher wages to attract drivers to deliver their stock with Teso even offering a £1,000 signing on fee for staff joining their team before the end of September. But not all employers can afford to increase salaries or offer financial incentives, especially after lockdowns and other restrictions made trading challenging for many companies.

Tom Cornwell, an RHA area manager, warned some businesses would not survive as a result of the shortage of drivers.

And the increase in driver wages is likely to push prices up for consumers and lead to stock shortages.

Furniture and homeware sector affected

Much of the focus in the media relating to the HGV driver shortage has focused on issues with food deliveries leaving supermarkets with empty shelves. But it has had an impact on almost all industries in the UK, including the furniture and homeware sector.

A survey carried out by the CBI found that stock levels in the UK had fallen to a record low. And thousands of businesses have reported having supply issues for a number of reasons including the driver shortage, increased red tape due to Brexit and restrictions caused by the pandemic.

The government has simplified the HGV driving test to make it easier to pass in a bid to boost driver numbers and increased the number of hours HGV operators can drive without a break. But this has prompted concerns about safety from organisations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa).

If you’re a company operating in the furniture and homeware industry experience issues with distribution, AP+ can help. We offer end-to-end third party logistics (3PL) solutions to companies in this sector so can ensure your customers receive their orders on time.

We can store your stock in our purpose-built warehouse, which has 300 sq ft of storage space, and then fulfil your orders when they come in. AP+ offers picking, packing, distribution and returns management services to suit your company’s needs.

To find out more, contact our team today.

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