If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably know that the HGV driver shortage has already turned into a full-blown crisis. There are multiple theories over the underlying causes of this issue. Based on exclusive data, we are in a position to reveal some of these causes.

Why are HGV drivers in demand?

A while ago, this HGV driver shortage was perceived as a slight disturbance of the supply chain. Today, however, it has turned into a massive problem that creates ripples across the whole haulage industry. This acute and urgent matter is affecting businesses across a wide array of industries and sectors of activity, generating food shortages everywhere in the country.

All parties involved in this situation have their own take on the possible solutions. Nevertheless, nobody can actually support any claim, because of the lack of evidence. This has created a huge gap between government on one side and industry on the other side.

Thanks to exclusive data, The Grocer is now able to shed some light on this matter. They might be able to show both the real causes of this crisis and the possible solution.

Before anything else, you must acknowledge that Britain’s driver shortage isn’t new. According to Logistics UK, even in the days before Brexit or COVID-19, the UK was lacking about 76,000 drivers.

According to ONS data, there are around 300,000 HGV drivers in the UK. Over the past few years, driver numbers have remained steady while demand kept growing. On the contrary, the number of EU drivers spiked from 10,000 back in 2010 to 45,000 in 2017.

This is to say that European drivers have been providing the so much needed elasticity in times of economic growth and increased demand. At the same time, relying on overseas labour has concerned many of us, for many years now. In 2016, MPs asked the transport industry to become less dependent on foreign drivers and take full responsibility for securing the labour force required to satisfy the demand.

During the pandemic, the situation became even more dramatic, as the UK workforce lost heaps of drivers. According to exclusive data from ONS, the net loss was 69,000, from 304,000 in Q1 2020 to 235,000 in Q2 2021. According to Logistics UK, the country needs about 90,000 additional drivers to cope with the current demand.

Where are all these drivers now? Is there anything that could bring them back?

For the food and logistics sectors, the main factor responsible for this shortage is the loss of EU drivers. A whole lot of businesses and trade bodies joined their forces and wrote a letter to PM Boris Johnson to urge him to address these causes as soon as possible.

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