Bin lorry driver shortage sparks disruption to collections in councils across UK

3 September 2021, 09:03

Bin collection services are the latest to be impacted by a lack of drivers.
Bin collection services are the latest to be impacted by a lack of drivers. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

People living in at least 18 council areas are facing delays to their bin collections due to a lack of drivers.

Staff have been forced to self-isolate due to Covid-19 and there is a growing number of vacancies in the sector due to a lack of qualified lorry drivers.

Areas affected include Devon and Cambridgeshire as well as parts of Wales. The delays mainly affect garden waste and recycling.

Councils in Devon sent an open letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday, urging the MP for more support with the crisis.

Local councillors revealed that North Devon Council were attempting to fill seven driver vacancies, Torbay Council eight, and Teignbridge Council 10.

"This equates to approximately 20% of the HGV workforce in driver vacancies and it is proving very challenging to fill this resourcing gap given the dynamics of this labour market," the letter read.

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"We are asking why the government isn’t giving temporary visas for European drivers," Torbay Council's Steve Darling said, according to Devon Live.

"We are training our own drivers, but it is only a partial answer to the shortfall. It isn’t going to sort things out immediately.

"This is a self-inflicted injury to some extent, and we need the Home Secretary to intervene."

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has estimated that the current driver shortage is at 100,000, up from before the pandemic.

It is thought that many EU workers left the UK during that period to return home.

Ministers have since suggested that employers take on locals instead, however, councils called for DVLA applications to be fast tracked to tackle the challenges.

It comes after supply chain issues have caused shortages for multiple sectors, with supermarkets and restaurants such as Nando's and McDonald's facing problems.