HGV Driver Shortage Reaching Crisis Point in the UK

The logistics sector has warned that a chronic shortage of HGV drivers since Brexit and the COVID-19 lockdown is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of the UK economy.



Industry associations have said that UK trade is facing a looming crisis for industrial and retail deliveries with a current shortfall of 70,000 drivers. The triple-threat of Brexit halting driver recruitment from the EU, a backlog of at least 30,000 HGV driver tests caused by COVID-19, and recent changes to self-employment tax reforms has led to acute driver shortages.


Leading UK freight companies said that unless urgent steps were taken to address shortages, strains now visible within the industry would become evident to the public by the end of the summer.


Almost one in ten logistics businesses say the recruitment of drivers is an ‘extreme barrier’ to the recovery of their business, according to a report released by business group Logistics UK: The Logistics Report 2021.

With the UK facing higher unemployment – predicted to be at least 5.5% this year – Logistics UK is urging the government to take immediate action to unlock access to these careers for new recruits to the sector, in order to support the recovery of the UK economy.


Alex Veitch, General Manager for Public Policy at Logistics UK commented:

“Our report shows that 29% of logistics businesses anticipate that they will be unable to fill vacancies for HGV drivers this year; a further 14.5% expect long delays before filling a role.
With the logistics industry in urgent need of these workers, Logistics UK is urging the government to provide interest-free loans or grants to train or reskill potential employees and help recruit them into the logistics industry.”

The business group is also urging the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to maintain its fast-track programme to catch-up on driving tests that were postponed due to COVID-19 between March and December 2020.


Mr Veitch continued:

“The backlog has left thousands of potential HGV drivers waiting in the wings when the UK needs them most to support every facet of UK PLC. With a large pool of potential candidates available – owing to the nation’s higher unemployment – we urge the government to make driver training affordable, accessible and attractive for all.”

In early 2021, Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson confirmed that funding for HGV apprenticeships will increase to £7,000 from 1 July. The increase was agreed upon after the road haulage Trailblazer Group (TBG) rejected the previously announced level of £6,000.


The group, which helped develop the apprenticeship standard, welcomed the announcement by the education secretary and urged the sector to engage in the process to help solve the driver shortage.


The Road Haulage Association Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said the announcement was a step towards resolving the driver shortage but said much more needed to be done. He said:

“We’ve worked tirelessly over the last year to unblock this problem and we’re pleased that the Government has listened. But this is only one element to help tackle the growing driver shortage crisis.
This move will support firms to recruit and train new drivers in the long term, but the industry needs immediate help as the demand for goods increases as lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

In summary, the shortage is a problem now which is only going to get worse in the coming years. Thankfully, Rishi Sunak may have inadvertently given you a 6-month window in which to ease some of your driver hiring issues at a very low cost. This article explains how - https://www.system-group.com/single-post/the-6-month-window-to-tackle-your-driver-shortage.


How can we help you?


System Group can support you in the following ways;

  • We can create SWAPs to help you interview and hire new drivers with C1 / Cat C / C+E licences for free.

  • We can deliver commercial driver courses for Cat C and C+E licence acquisition.

  • Through our complimentary resourcing service, we can source, screen and supply apprentices for your business.

  • We can deliver the apprenticeship programmes for those new employees.

  • We can guide you through how to access the employer incentive payments.


Contact our experts today and find out the best solution to your skills shortage.

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