Brexit not to blame for UK lorry driver shortage, ONS figures suggest

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found the number of lorry drivers in the UK has fallen by 53,000 over the last four years. The downturn has been driven by a lack of British HGV drivers, with 44,000 UK nationals leaving the occupation in the since 2017.

The ONS noted the shortfall in the labour force was felt hardest among middle-aged men.

UK supply chains have been rocked by the labour shortage and has contributed to empty supermarket shelves as well as the panic-buying of fuel.

Firms have offered lucrative signing-up offers to recruit younger workers, while the Government has issued short-term visas for overseas workers to help alleviate the problems over the Christmas period.

Issues faced in the UK have also been repeated in Europe as supply chain bottlenecks emerge around the world.

The RHA has welcomed the decision by the Government to make 5,000 visas available for oversees workers, but Mr McKenzie said the solution is “only ever a short term measure”.

The coronavirus pandemic also forced many smaller haulage firms to shut and let employees go.

Others were placed on the furlough scheme, which paid 80 percent of an employees’ wage, but many were also forced to seek a new career in order to make ends meet.

Mr McKenzie said: “During the lockdown many drivers who were furloughed in non-essential sectors like retail decided to move into other jobs and they have not returned.”

Duncan Buchanan, the director at the RHA, addressed MPs on the Business Select Committee on Tuesday and warned it may take another 12 months for the industry to bounce back.

He added: “Things are very challenged at the moment.

“There are widespread shortages of lorry drivers, which are leading to delays and frustrated trips.

“Among our members we are still getting reports that this hasn’t eased at all.

“Things are not visibly getting better at this stage and I know there are a number of measures that have been put in place – stepping up training, stepping up tests – but on the ground that isn’t having much of an effect.”

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