UK Driver Shortage - August 2021 Update

Following reports of driver shortages earlier in 2021, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) now estimates that the UK is short of 100,000 HGV operators. The Association attributes the issue to the combined effects of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and declining driver conditions.

In an effort to combat the issue, the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has temporarily relaxed rules around the enforcement of driver hours. An initial relaxation of the rules ran from Monday 12 July to Sunday 8 August 2021, with daily driving limits increased from nine to ten hours with a single eleven hour period permitted twice in any one week period. This initiative has now been extended to 3 October 2021.

UK retailers have also sought to take matters into their own hands by offering attractive remuneration packages to new HGV drivers. Aldi is understood to have raised driver wages to attract new talent, while Tesco will issue a £1,000 starting bonus to drivers who join before 30 September. Competitor Morrisons has also launched its own driver training scheme to help new and existing staff gain HGV licences.

Recognising chronic shortages throughout the industry, the Road Haulage Association has now called on ministers to add HGV drivers to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List. This would pave the way for overseas lorry drivers to be issued with Temporary or Skilled Worker Visas.

It is unclear how the driver shortage situation will pan out, but it is expected to affect supply chains for months to come.

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