Haulage industry has 'serious measure of blame' for HGV shortage, Iain Duncan Smith says

2 October 2021, 09:48 | Updated: 2 October 2021, 10:18

By Seán Hickey

An 'addiction to cheap labour' in the haulage industry holds a large portion of blame for the current HGV crisis, former leader of the Tories claims.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith spoke to LBC after the government announced plans to mobilise the army to plug gaps in UK supply chains.

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HGV driver shortages have led to a shortage of some products on supermarket shelves and petrol stations running dry following a fuel panic-buying fiasco.

Read more: Tory MP calls on retired HGV drivers to return to work to save Christmas

"I have to say, the hauliers must take a massive measure of their own responsibility in this shortage" Sir Iain insisted.

The Tory MP shared an anecdote where he said some companies were resigned to the idea that Brits don't want to be HGV drivers and thus never sought out drivers, rather than accommodating training and development of drivers.

"What they got into the habit of, and I'm afraid this is the problem, is cheap labour. Actually a problem for the whole of the UK for years has been, this addiction to cheap labour."

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Mr Duncan Smith accepted that "Brexit may make it a little less flexible to come across the border" but said "this was all massively exposed because of Covid".

He claimed that prospective HGV drivers "pondered away on furlough both here and abroad as to whether or not they wanted to come back and do the driving" and many decided against returning to the haulage industry.

Read more: One in four petrol stations still empty, after minister warns of another week of shortages

"There's been some very stupid institutional thinking but also the hauliers have hot to take a serious measure of the blame", the Tory MP reiterated.

Sir Iain concluded by suggesting that hauliers thought they "could get cheap labour from abroad forever, and that's not the case", which is why we're in the current situation.