Delivery driver shortage now at ‘catastrophic proportions’

The shortage of about 65,000 trained drivers is affecting the speed and cost of deliveries across the country, one driving trade body has said. According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the HGV driver shortage has now reached “catastrophic proportions”. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The upturn in the economy since Covid-19 is increasing demand across supply chains and the reopening of non-essential retail outlets and parts of the hospitality sector is making the situation even worse.”

Unsustainable level

He added: “The pandemic also resulted in the loss of about 12 months of driver training and testing.

The long-term ineffectiveness of apprenticeships for lorry drivers and the general hostility from authorities and Government is also unhelpful for recruiting and retraining drivers.” This means freight rates are rising to an “unsustainable level” and costs will have to be passed on to consumers, the RHA added. The association has put together a 12-point plan to tackle the driver shortage, which includes better promotion of the job and sector, apprenticeship funding gap, continued priority driving tests for HGV drivers and included drivers on the Government’s skilled worker shortage occupation list.

“We need the Government to act and address the driver shortage for the industry and the drivers,” Burnett said.

“While we come the increase in HGV apprenticeship funding to GBP7,000, this barely scratches the surface of the problem.”

Order caps

When it comes to beer deliveries to pubs, The Morning Advertiser (MA) understands Greene King is using standard operating procedures where pubs that stock its beer are only taking one delivery a week in a designated time period (such as 48 hours in advance).

The MA has also learnt Heineken has not had to put a cap on the number of orders customers can make due to the delivery driver shortage.

This followed reports earlier this year (April) around increase demand for beer putting pressure on suppliers amid pubs being permitted to reopen for outdoor trading.