Supply chain crisis: No 'visible' improvements in HGV driver shortage - RHA

19 October 2021, 13:45

The shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has caused chaos to the supply chain
The shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has caused chaos to the supply chain. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The shortage of lorry drivers and resultant disruption is "not visibly getting better" despite Government measures aimed at alleviating the issue, a trade association has told MPs.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee that supply chains remained "challenged" and there were still "widespread shortages" causing delays and frustration.

"Things are very challenged at the moment," said Duncan Buchanan, director of policy at the RHA, speaking to the BEIS committee on Tuesday.

"There are widespread shortages of lorry drivers, which are leading to delays and frustrated trips.

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"Among our members we are still getting reports that this hasn't eased at all.

"Things are not visibly getting better at this stage and I know there are a number of measures that have been put in place - stepping up training, stepping up tests - but on the ground that isn't having much of an effect."

The Food and Drink Federation also gave evidence to the select committee, and said that ministers need to consider the "terrifying" rise in inflation that could result from the supply chain disruption.

"The committee really needs to think seriously about inflation," said chief executive Ian Wright.

"In hospitality, inflation is running between 14 per cent and 18 per cent, which is terrifying.

"If the Prime Minister is, as I know he is, serious about levelling up, inflation is a bigger scourge than almost anything because it discriminates against the poor."

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The trade body boss also stressed there was sufficient food in the UK, although he admitted to some shortages on shelves.

"We are not going to run out of food but there are some shortages, we have seen some problems with pigs and poultry, with some of these being solved," he said.

Last Friday Boris Johnson announced he was calling in foreign workers in order to tackle the shortage of butchers.

There were concerns that more than 100,000 pigs would be destroyed due to a slaughter backlog.

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The Government also offered temporary visas for foreign HGV drivers - but Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted to LBC last week that only 20 out of the 300 applications had been processed.

Mr Dowden told LBC's Nick Ferrari the number of lorry drivers the UK has been able to attract was "limited".

As well as the visa scheme, the Government have also expanded a fast-track training scheme for HGV drivers already in the UK.