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How serious is the shortage of lorry drivers? How serious is the shortage of lorry drivers?
(32 minutes later)
The government is introducing temporary visas for 5,000 fuel tanker and food lorry drivers to work in the UK in the run-up to Christmas.The government is introducing temporary visas for 5,000 fuel tanker and food lorry drivers to work in the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
It has faced calls to do so for several weeks, but has resisted them until now, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously saying: "We do have to stand on our own two feet as the United Kingdom". It has faced calls to do so for several weeks, amid growing concerns about deliveries of food and fuel.
The government has resisted those calls until now, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously saying: "We do have to stand on our own two feet as the United Kingdom".
The shortage of HGV drivers is due to a combination of Covid, Brexit and other factors.The shortage of HGV drivers is due to a combination of Covid, Brexit and other factors.
How have companies been affected?
Some petrol stations have been closed and others have had lengthy queues with BP having to temporarily close some of its sites due to a shortage of delivery drivers
The supermarket chain Morrisons warned that the driver shortage would push up prices
The Wetherspoons chain said some of its pubs had run out of some beer brands
Brewers Heineken and Molson Coors said they had been hit by the shortage of HGV drivers
Coca Cola Europacific Partners said some supermarkets were running out of Diet Coke because of driver shortages and problems sourcing Aluminium cans
Nando's temporarily closed 50 sites blaming supply chain issues
McDonalds stopped sales of milkshakes and bottled drinks blaming a shortages of HGV drivers
Haribo is struggling to deliver to the UK because of shortages of HGV drivers
Iceland's managing director told the BBC his company was cancelling 30-40 deliveries a day
A Bank of England report, covering April to June, also found that "transportation delays had resulted in shortages of some items, such as furniture, car parts and electrical goods".
Severe shortages of materials for the construction sector, such as cement and timber, as well as problem for the manufacturing sector, were also highlighted.
How serious has the problem become?How serious has the problem become?
There is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000, a Road Haulage Association survey of its members estimates. A Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey of its members estimates there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers in the UK.
That number included tens of thousands of drivers from EU member states who were living and working in the UK. That number includes thousands of drivers from European Union (EU) member states who were previously living and working in the UK.
Even before Covid, the estimated shortage was about 60,000 drivers. The Annual Population Survey produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that there were 16,000 fewer EU nationals working as HGV drivers in the year ending March 2021 than in the previous year.
But things have got worse, and there are now warnings from companies and hauliers that they can no longer guarantee all pick-ups and deliveries. Even before Covid, the overall estimated shortage was about 60,000 drivers.
But things have got worse, and there are warnings from companies and hauliers that they can no longer guarantee all pick-ups and deliveries.
It's not clear how easy it will be to attract thousands of new drivers on a short-term basis from abroad.
Why now?Why now?
Covid is certainly part of it. As travel became increasingly restricted last year, and large parts of the economy shut down, many European drivers went home. And haulage companies say very few have returned. Covid is certainly part of the problem. As travel became increasingly restricted last year, and large parts of the economy shut down, many European drivers went home. And haulage companies say very few have returned.
The pandemic has also created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, so it's been impossible to get enough new drivers up and running.The pandemic has also created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, so it's been impossible to get enough new drivers up and running.
The industry said in a letter to the prime minister in June that there were 25,000 fewer candidates passing their test in 2020 than in 2019.The industry said in a letter to the prime minister in June that there were 25,000 fewer candidates passing their test in 2020 than in 2019.
What about Brexit?What about Brexit?
There is evidence of HGV driver shortages across Europe, but the UK has been among the hardest hit by the problem. There are HGV driver shortages across Europe, but in the UK Brexit has made things worse.
This was because many European drivers went back to their home countries, or decided to work elsewhere. Many European drivers who went back to their home countries, or decided to work elsewhere, are unable to return.
When the UK was part of the single market, they used to be able to come and go as they pleased. When the UK was part of the EU's single market, they used to be able to come and go as they pleased.
But the additional border bureaucracy after Brexit meant it was too much hassle for many of them to drive into and out of the UK. But new immigration rules mean that is no longer the case.
Many drivers are paid by the mile or kilometre rather than by the hour, so delays cost them money. There is also new bureaucracy, and the decline in the value of the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote has made working in the UK less attractive for EU nationals.
Also, the decline in the value of the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote has meant that being paid in pounds has been less attractive for EU nationals. The strain on the freight transport system has come before Britain imposes checks on goods coming in from the EU. They have now been delayed until next year - some in January, others in July.
If they prove to be too intrusive, that could make it even more difficult to encourage European drivers to work in this country. Many drivers are paid by the mile or kilometre rather than by the hour, so delays cost them money.
Tax and conditionsTax and conditions
There have also been tax changes making it more expensive for drivers from elsewhere in Europe to work or be employed in the UK. There have been tax changes making it more expensive for drivers from elsewhere in Europe to work or be employed in the UK.
The reform of the IR35 rules - on how people working off the payroll pay tax - are designed to prevent workers from setting up limited companies through which they pay less tax and National Insurance while working, in effect, as an employee. The reform of the IR35 rules - on how people working off the payroll pay tax - are designed to prevent workers setting up limited companies and paying less tax and National Insurance while working, in effect, as an employee.
But it means there's less incentive for them to come and work in the UK because they make less money. But there has been less incentive for European drivers to come and work in the UK because they may make less money.
Haulage companies also want better conditions for drivers in general, and a recognition that they are a vital part of the economy. Haulage companies also say the average age of HGV drivers in the UK is 55, and more needs to be done to attract younger workers.
Why is there a shortage of lorry drivers?Why is there a shortage of lorry drivers?
Backlash against longer hours for lorry driversBacklash against longer hours for lorry drivers
They say the average age of HGV drivers in the UK is 55, and more needs to be done to attract younger workers. That means better terms and conditions, better facilities for long distance drivers to use, and a recognition that they are a vital part of the economy.
One consequence of shortages, though, has been that some wages for drivers have been going up. One consequence of shortages, though, has been that some wages for drivers are already going up.
What about Northern Ireland?
Like other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland is short of HGV drivers but there haven't been fuel shortages because it is not experiencing the same acute problems with tanker drivers.
Northern Ireland was less reliant on drivers from the EU so has been less impacted by those workers no longer being available. An industry source says tanker driving tends to have better pay and working hours, so it is sought after by local drivers.
Geography also works in Northern Ireland's favour - it's not much more than 100 miles wide so supply chains can't get as stretched as they are in the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland is to a large extent served by the same refineries as the rest of the UK. For example, Texaco ships fuel from its refinery in Pembroke to a storage facility at Belfast Harbour.
But Northern Ireland has no more access to EU workers such as HGV drivers than other parts of the UK.
What about the rest of Europe?
There are significant shortages of drivers in other EU countries.
According to data collected by Transport Intelligence, Poland was short of more than 120,000 drivers last year, while in Germany between 45,000 and 60,000 were needed. New figures are expected in the coming weeks.
But shortages in other countries are having less impact than in the UK.
Other European countries can call upon a much larger pool of labour in the single market, with the guarantee of free movement. In the UK that flexibility is no longer available, and the labour shortage is affecting other industries as well - from food processing to fruit picking.
What is being done about shortages?What is being done about shortages?
As well as allowing more foreign workers into the UK from October, Ministry of Defence examiners will be brought in to increase the number of HGV driving tests.As well as allowing more foreign workers into the UK from October, Ministry of Defence examiners will be brought in to increase the number of HGV driving tests.
There will be free intensive "bootcamps" to train 3000 people to become HGV drivers, with another 1000 to be trained through courses funded by the adult education budget.There will be free intensive "bootcamps" to train 3000 people to become HGV drivers, with another 1000 to be trained through courses funded by the adult education budget.
Also, the government is writing to nearly one million drivers who hold an HGV licence to encourage them to return to the industry.Also, the government is writing to nearly one million drivers who hold an HGV licence to encourage them to return to the industry.
It has also slightly relaxed the Drivers' Hours rules, which means drivers will be able to increase their daily driving limit from nine hours to 11 hours twice a week.
A government spokesperson said longer journeys "must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety."
There have been warnings about fruit and vegetable deliveries because of driver shortagesThere have been warnings about fruit and vegetable deliveries because of driver shortages
The government is also expected to announce changes to the HGV driver testing process to get more newly qualified people into the haulage industry. It has also slightly relaxed the Drivers' Hours rules, which means drivers will be able to increase their daily driving limit from nine hours to 11 hours twice a week.
And there is £7,000 funding for the Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship scheme. A government spokesperson said longer journeys "must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety".
Companies have also been taking steps, including: And there is £7,000 per person funding for the Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship scheme.
Ocado is spending £5m on higher wages and sign-on bonuses
Tesco is offering drivers a £1,000 joining bonus
Aldi has increased wages for drivers
Waitrose has given its drivers a pay rise of around £2 an hour while new qualified drivers will receive a "welcome payment" of £1,000.
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