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Why is There a Shortage of HGV Drivers?

Updated: Jul 12

The UK now has an estimated shortfall of more than 100,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers.


This, combined with the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, increasing fuel prices and a hike in the cost of global supply chain movements, is putting significant pressure on the UK supply chain.


lorry park
A shortage of lorry drivers is hitting distribution companies and threatens to lead to higher prices

Due to the pandemic, it is estimated up to 38,000 HGV driving tests did not go ahead in 2020. This situation, along with new compliance regulations, has resulted in a severe shortage of drivers before we even reach peak season. Operators are either having to increase rates or levy surcharges to cover the deficit.


Due to the pandemic, it is estimated up to 38,000 HGV driving tests did not go ahead in 2020

In addition, nearly a third of the 300,000 UK drivers are aged over 55 and approaching retirement.


The industry is urgently lobbying the UK government to add drivers to the skilled workers list to encourage eligible drivers back into the market that may have left between 2019/2020.


The UK government’s current solution to the driver shortage crisis has been to relax driving hours rules by one hour per day. This has been widely condemned by the unions. Their view is that this will not help to fill the vacant positions but will almost certainly make the roads more dangerous. The measure is seen as nothing but a "sticking plaster".


With HGV drivers at the heart of successful supply chains, the impact of the driver shortage is significant. One of the consequences is the prospect of empty shelves, as supermarkets cannot deliver goods in time. A number of high profile businesses have warned that the shortage will soon pose a serious threat to normal patterns of trade.




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