Supply chain crisis: Over 50k HGV drivers lost in 4 years

·1-min read
Stock image of an HGV lorry on the M4 motorway near Datchet  (PA Wire)
Stock image of an HGV lorry on the M4 motorway near Datchet (PA Wire)

Britain’s supply chain crisis has been fuelled by the loss of more than 50,000 HGVdrivers over the past four years, official figures reveal.

In the year to June, there were an estimated 268,000 drivers working in the UK, according to the ONS. This was down 53,000, or 17 per cent, from the peak of 321,000 in 2017.

The decline is largely the result of older drivers retiring and not being replaced, and European drivers quitting after Brexit and pandemic lockdown measures came into force in 2020.

The data shows 43,000 drivers from EU countries were working in Britain in the year to the end of March 2020. However, by June 2021 this had fallen to 28,000, down 15,000 or 35 per cent.

The shortage of drivers has been blamed for last month’s petrol crisis and empty shelves in supermarkets. The ONS figures showed that almost 30 per cent of shoppers found it difficult to buy groceries, medication or other essentials in late September and early October, up from just 15 per cent in early August.

But they also show the lack of hauliers is far less of a problem for exporters and importers than the extra paperwork and costs associated with Brexit.

Around 22 per cent of businesses reported challenges importing in early-mid September because of a lack of hauliers and 10 per cent reported challenges exporting for the same reason.

However, this was dwarfed by the problem of “additional paperwork”, which was cited by 41 per cent of importers and 35 per cent of exporters

The number of tests taken in the year to March 2021 collapsed from an average of 41,731 in the previous five years to just 16,022.

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