Lorry driver shortage puts Christmas at risk

Santa Claus & the gate to gift distribution centerThe Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned that a major driver shortage risks putting Christmas deliveries at risk and poses a major threat to the British economy.

The organisation which represents more than 8,000 hauliers has taken some time out from celebrating National Lorry Week to warn that the industry is short tens of thousands of drivers which it needs in order to fill Christmas orders.

The UK has had a worsening shortage of licensed and qualified truck drivers for a number of years which makes it difficult to fill orders – especially at busy times of year.

Over 85% of all goods bought in the UK are carried by a lorry at some stage along their supply chain.

In such a vital industry, the shortage could have a significant impact on the economy and on government tax receipts. The sustained driver shortage has also led to an overreliance on foreign drivers – many of whom head home for Christmas.

RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: “We are short of between 45,000 and 50,000 drivers and the situation is getting worse. Thousands of older drivers are leaving the industry and younger people can’t afford the £3,000 it costs to get a truck licence. The government could help, but won’t.”

The RHA is lobbying the government provide money for training new drivers – in particular they suggest hauliers should receive a £3,000 grant to help new drivers get qualified.

They argue that the UK is suffering from under-investment in HGV driving skills. If the problem is not addressed and younger drivers are not brought into the industry then the driver shortfall could increase to 60,000 within 12 months.

Burnett added: “Our industry is the lifeblood of our economy. The government can and must do more to help with this driver shortage crisis. Its failure to do so is now posing a real threat to the UK’s economic recovery.”

To find out more about the RHA and the Love the Lorry campaign visit their website.