Fleet News

Driver shortage: Petrol stations closed as pressure mounts on Government

Hand on fuel pump

The Government has defended its handling of the HGV driver shortage after fuel deliveries were unable to be made leaving some forecourts closed.

[Driver shortage crisis under the spotlight at Fleet & Mobility Live]

A "handful" of BP stations, and a small number of Esso-owned Tesco Alliance stations, were closed on Thursday due to a lack of delivery drivers, the BBC reports

The UK is facing a shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers, which is impacting retail supply chains and leading to empty shelves.

The Government has announced changes to the HGV driver test in order to free up capacity for 50,000 additional tests per year.

However, while welcoming the measures in a letter to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Logistics UK and the British Retail Consortium said it will take time for the pool of available HGV drivers to reach a scale which matches demand.

They, along with the Road Haulage Association (RHA), want the Government to grant temporary work visas to HGV drivers from the EU.

For the latest on the HGV driver shortage, including 5,000 temporary visas being introduced to attract drivers from Europe, click here

Supermarket Iceland - which is about 100 drivers short – have also joined Morrisons and Ocado in calling for the Government to add HGV drivers to the list of shortage occupations, which would allow foreign workers to apply for skilled worker visas to fill the current gaps.

But, transport secretary Grant Shapps says he did not want UK lorry drivers to leave the industry by being "undercut" by cheaper EU labour.

He said there were "systemic problems" in the haulage industry that needed to be resolved, pointing out that the profession was "99% white male" with an average age of 55, facing poor conditions and wages.

The RHA says the industry has lost 20,000 European drivers because of Brexit, while the pandemic had forced 40,000 driver training tests to be cancelled.

Driver shortage crisis under the spotlight at Fleet & Mobility Live

Logistics UK and Driver Require will explore ways in which the UK can address the current HGV driver shortage crisis as part of an in-depth session at this year's Fleet & Mobility Live.

Chris Yarsley, Logistics UK’s policy manager for Wales, Midlands and South West, will give a presentation looking at some of the ways the Government is being engaged on policy to help remove some of the barriers to progress.

Yarsley said: “We’re working with the Government across multiple departments, including the Department for Transport (DfT), Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to look at how policy can address the driver shortage.

“This includes boosting apprenticeships and access to funding there, as well as introducing short term visas to attract European drivers to help address the shortage.

“There are even things to do with infrastructure and facilities for lorry drivers that can make the profession less appealing, so there are many areas where policy can make a difference.”

Kieran Smith, chief executive at specialist HGV driver recruitment business Driver Require, will then reveal the latest results from the company’s Think Tank report.

Driver Require has been tracking the UK’s HGV driver shortage issue for a number of years prior to the Coronavirus outbreak and then more closely to investigate the way forward due to the impact of Covid-19 on the UK haulage sector.

The previous report in May had predicted that the unprecedented events of the last 12 months would lead to a driver shortage crisis in the coming months.

Smith said: “As a supplier to the haulage sector, Driver Require had already experienced a significant increase in demand and a scarcity of quality drivers – and agency driver pay rates are escalating at a frightening pace.

“As a temporary recruiter, we are at the coalface of the crisis but it will be our clients and ultimately businesses and consumers who rely on the movement of goods across the UK who will pay the greatest price.

“We need to raise the profile of this issue, dispel common perceptions and provide industry key influencers and decision makers the opportunity to act to secure the UK’s economic recovery.”

The full agenda for Fleet & Mobility Live is now available to view and registrations are open and free to fleet decision-makers.

Click here for driver training best practice and procurement insight

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