Why is there a HGV driver shortage and how bad could the problem get?

Problems with some fuel deliveries have sparked long queues at petrol stations, while retailers have warned a solution to the HGV driver shortage must be found within days to avoid "significant disruption" in the run-up to Christmas.

Why is there a HGV driver shortage and how bad could the problem get?

Image: The HGV driver shortage has led to long queues at petrol stations

Panicked motorists have caused lengthy queues at petrol stations and caused some pumps to run dry – the latest consequence of a shortage of HGV drivers which is causing widespread disruption in the UK.

The government insists the country has “ample fuel stocks” but it has not stopped long lines of cars forming after Esso, BP and Tesco forecourts were affected by problems getting petrol deliveries.

It comes after the UK’s biggest supermarket chains and restaurants including McDonald’s, KFC and Nando’s were impacted by the truck driver shortages.

Fuel supply latest: Follow live updates as police urge motorists to ‘be sensible’

Retailers have now warned a solution must be found within days to avoid “significant disruption” in the run-up to Christmas.

So why is there a HGV driver shortage, how big is the problem and what can be done to fix it?

Why is there a shortage of HGV drivers?

The UK needs 100,000 more HGV drivers if it is to meet demand, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Rod McKenzie, from the organisation, told Sky News it is a “critical situation” and a “cocktail of chaos” had led to the crisis.

So what are the causes?

COVID pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many foreign HGV drivers return to their home countries and the “vast majority” have not returned, according to the RHA.

There has also been a large backlog in HGV driver tests due to the pandemic, meaning tens of thousands of potential new drivers have been unable to join the industry.

Last year, 40,000 tests were cancelled – with 25,000 fewer candidates passing their test in 2020 than in 2019.


The RHA claims around 20,000 European drivers have left the UK for “Brexit reasons”.

It says the “uncertainty of Brexit and future rights to live and work in the UK” forced many drivers to leave the country.

However Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claims Brexit has helped provide solutions to the shortages in the haulage sector by allowing an increase in HGV driving tests to be introduced.

He told Sky News: “I’ve seen people point to Brexit as if it is the culprit here. In fact, they are wrong.”

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said the government’s handling of Brexit had been partly to blame for adding extra pressure on the HGV sector.

She told Sky News that manufacturers now faced “additional red tape” and drivers were having to fill in “dozens of pages of paperwork”.

“That is quite a tall order for a HGV driver if they have got to be dealing with all of that, as well as getting goods from one place to another,” she added.

Why is there a HGV driver shortage and how bad could the problem get?

Is Britain running on empty? Here's what we're short of and the industries under threat

Retiring drivers

The average age of an HGV driver is 55, while less than 1% of drivers are under the age of 25, according to the RHA.

It says around 2,000 drivers are leaving the industry every week, often due to retirement, with only 1,000 new recruits joining over the same period.

Mr McKenzie told Sky News: “We’ve got an ageing population of lorry drivers so we’ve got more lorry drivers leaving the profession because they want to retire.

“We’ve got more drivers leaving than joining so as every week goes by so there’s something new in the supply chain that’s creaking and crumbling.”

Cost of training and pay

Mr McKenzie said the industry “needs to make the profession of a trucker much more enticing” to younger people and warned the cost of training was a deterrent.

“We want younger people to want to be truckers, and it’s expensive – at least £4,000, possibly £7,000 – to train to be a trucker and that’s beyond the pockets of most young people,” he told Sky News.

“So we’ve got to make it easier to take that financial burden away from them and make it easier for them to get in and stay in.

“One of the problems we’ve had has been low pay and that’s now being addressed.

“We’re seeing in many cases trucker pay has risen quite dramatically to around £40,000-50,000 a year, which is very welcome.”

Why is there a HGV driver shortage and how bad could the problem get?

Image: The haulage industry is seeking to attract younger drivers

Tax changes

A change to rules on how people working off the payroll pay tax has been blamed for some HGV drivers leaving the industry.

The reform of the IR35 rules were designed to prevent workers from setting up limited companies through which they pay less tax and National Insurance while working, in effect, as an employee.

Victoria Short, chief executive of Randstad UK Recruitment, told Sky News it had resulted in many HGV drivers moving from self-employed status to employed status, which saw their earnings drop by as much as 25%.

Working conditions

Conditions at roadside services in the UK are “far worse” than in mainland Europe, according to Ms Short.

She said: “When we’re trying to attract talent from mainland Europe to come here and work, and the pay and conditions that they have there are better, we need to consider how we can looks at things like that for them as well.”

What is being done to fix the problem?

Temporary visas

The government is expected to clear the way for a visa change allowing thousands of foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK.

The temporary measures would be aimed at HGV truckers from abroad plugging the gaps that have been blamed for causing the queues at petrol pumps and shortages in some food items.

Number 10 has insisted any move would be “very strictly time-limited” and Sky News understands that Boris Johnson has allowed ministers to relax immigration rules and issue visas that could allow up to 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK.

But Mr McKenzie said the temporary visas “won’t solve” the problems facing the haulage industry, adding that “much more needs to be done on training, apprenticeships, testing and welfare facilities for truckers”.

Retailers Iceland, Morrisons and Ocado have called for the government to add HGV drivers to the list of shortage occupations.

That would allow foreign workers to apply for skilled worker visas to fill the current gaps.

Why is there a HGV driver shortage and how bad could the problem get?

Image: Conditions at roadside services in the UK are said to be 'far worse' than in mainland Europe

HGV driving tests relaxed

The transport secretary announced earlier this month that HGV driving tests will be relaxed to allow 50,000 more to be taken in an attempt to tackle the shortage of lorry drivers ahead of Christmas.

Mr Shapps said three changes will happen to speed up the process after the suspension of tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes are:

• From 20 September, car drivers will not be able to take a test to tow a trailer or caravan to allow about 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be taken this year

• Tests will be made shorter, with the reversing exercise element removed and the uncoupling and recoupling exercise for trailer tests removed – and they will not have to be tested separately by a third party

• Articulated vehicle drivers will no longer have to get a licence for a smaller vehicle first. The government says this will allow about 20,000 more HGV tests each year and means drivers can gain licences and enter the industry more quickly.

Military support?

There have been reports that the government is set to call on HGV specialists from the military, including the Royal Logistics Corps, in an effort to tackle a deteriorating backlog of goods.

But Richard Burnett, who heads the RHA, told Sky News that deploying army personnel to help tackle the HGV driver shortage “will not scratch the surface” of the UK’s delivery crisis.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Tesla sees sales soar despite supply chain woes - but warns 'outside factors' could affect further growth

The electric car maker, led by billionaire Elon Musk, boosted profits as well as revenues despite a fall in the average selling price of its cars amid a shift to cheaper models. Read more »

China's ‘unfair trade practices' draw heavy fire at WTO trade review

China was accused of a laundry list of trade felonies and economic bullying during a series of attacks by other nations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva on ... Read more »

Supply-chain disruptions are now causing a shortage of juice boxes

Supply chain problems are impacting the stock of Capri-Sun products at a grocery stores in the US. ZUMAPRESS.com Juice boxes are the latest victim of the supply-chain issues causing shortages ... Read more »

Debit or credit card? Payment cards will be replaced from 2023

Millions of debit cards in the Netherlands will be replaced from mid-2023. Both Mastercard and Visa are coming with new technology, which will change the Maestro and V Pay logos ... Read more »

DHL combating fraudsters using corporate name — VP

Fraudsters often attempt to act under the DHL logo Read more »

Woman secretly built $47 million company after quitting her job as an accountant

Showpo CEO Jane Lu attends SHOWPO US Launch Party At Neuehouse Hollywood at NeueHouse Hollywood on August 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Alison Buck A savvy businesswoman has revealed ... Read more »

In-N-Out Burger slams San Francisco over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Burger chain In-N-Out slammed San Francisco’s vaccine mandate after one of its stores was temporarily closed by city health officials — ripping the “offensive” order as “clear governmental overreach.” The ... Read more »

56,744 euros: bitcoin reaches its highest level ever

Bitcoin has hit a new record. The cryptocurrency has reached a value of 66,000 dollars (56,744 euros), reports the American news agency Bloomberg. After the currency hit the previous record ... Read more »

Eelco Hoekstra starts second career after twenty years of Vopak

A board chairman of a listed company who announces his departure after eleven years is not an everyday occurrence. The fact that the retiring CEO, Eelco Hoekstra of Vopak, has ... Read more »

UAW tells members to urge Congress to back union-made EVs in the U.S.

UAW Local 5960 member Kinethia Black fills the brakes of a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV during vehicle production on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant ... Read more »

Shoppers Stop Q2 net loss at Rs 3.68 crore; sales up two-fold to Rs 642 crore

Retail chain Shoppers Stop Ltd on Wednesday reported narrowing of its consolidated net loss to Rs 3.68 crore for the September quarter, helped by a comeback in sales. The company ... Read more »

Paypal in US$45 billion bid for Pinterest, say sources

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – PayPal Holdings has made an offer to buy digital pinboard site Pinterest for US$45 billion (S$60 billion), people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday (Oct ... Read more »

Bitcoin hits new high as launch of new fund opens up market to wider class of investors

The world's leading cryptocurrency has bounced back after a dip to less than $30,000 earlier this year despite repeated warnings from regulators about the risks involved in investing in such assets. Read more »

Stocks making the biggest moves midday: Pinterest, Sonos, Anthem and more

Customers view merchandise in an experience room at the Sonos store in New York.Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images Check out the companies making headlines in midday trading. Pinterest ... Read more »

Rosneft launches petrochemical production program in India — CEO

Leading oil and gas companies of India are proactively investing in the largest Russian projects of Rosneft Read more »

‘PayPal wants to buy Pinterest image site'

Pinterest members can ‘pin’ images they find online and organize them by theme, for example to get inspiration for the interior. Like other social media companies, the company makes the ... Read more »

What is the 'two-tiered wage system' fueling worker strikes?

“If you’re not equal in pay, you’re not equal,” said one labor union representative. Read more »

SC rejects bail plea of ex-Amrapali director Shiv Priya on medical grounds

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the plea of the ex-director of Amrapali Group seeking bail on medical grounds in the money laundering case against him saying that it is ... Read more »

Mahindra XUV700 bookings hit 65,000 in two weeks

SUV specialist Mahindra & Mahindra claimed that it has clocked 65,000 cumulative bookings for the XUV700 within two weeks of launch. The Mumbai-based company has partnered with a consulting company to ... Read more »

Maestro disappears from the debit card

Retailers with an ATM that only accepts Maestro payments will then have to replace their machines. Maestro, known for the two flowing red-orange circles, is disappearing because, according to Mastercard ... Read more »

PayPal in talks to buy Pinterest: Report

Payments giant PayPal Holdings Inc is in talks to buy digital pinboard site Pinterest Inc, according to a person directly familiar with the matter. The companies have discussed a potential ... Read more »

Is Tesla stock an ESG investment? The case for and against Elon Musk's EV company

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leader Armin Laschet visit the construction site of Tesla's Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, August 13, 2021.Patrick Pleul | ... Read more »

South Limburg is looking for contact center employees: ‘Customers experience soft g as pleasant'

In South Limburg, employers are looking for employees in customer service. Contact centers are present in increasing numbers because the Dutch are increasingly shopping online. The South Limburg region is ... Read more »

SpaceX expected to become more valuable than Tesla, Morgan Stanley survey finds

Starship prototype SN15 returns for a landing on May 5, 2021 after a high-altitude flight test.SpaceX Between Elon Musk's two largest companies, investors and experts have a long-term favorite. Most ... Read more »

Mindtree Executive Director and COO Dayapatra Nevatia resigns

Bengaluru-headquartered IT services firm Mindtree Ltd announced in a regulatory filing on October 20 that the company’s executive director and chief operating officer (COO) Dayapatra Nevatia has resigned from the position. ... Read more »

Millions of pensions again threaten not to be indexed: new figures on Thursday

Premium The best of De Telegraaf Through Dave Krajenbrink Updated 4 min ago15 min ago in MONEY At pension fund Calpam, retirees enjoy their retirement provision very much. ⓒ ANP/HH ... Read more »

Evergrande scraps US$2.6 billion sale of property services unit to Hopson, suffering a second rebuff to its asset disposal in a week

China Evergrande Group scrapped the sale of its property management unit to a rival, as its asset disposal plan was rebuffed for the second time in a week just before ... Read more »

Mastek Q2 net profit up 37.8% at Rs 81.5 crore

IT firm Mastek has seen its consolidated net profit grow 37.8 per cent to Rs 81.5 crore for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. This is against a net profit ... Read more »

Weidmann exits after dogged campaign against ECB's approach to 'addictive' cheap money

The head of the Bundesbank is leaving at a time when inflation is taking off across the world - and his departure hands the new German government with a tough decision to make on his replacement. Read more »

Russian authorities worried about possible aftermath of European energy crisis, says Putin

The president also said that prices for various goods would eventually increase Read more »

Russia does not expect gas situation in Europe to balance out soon — Novak

Russian Deputy Prime Minister noted that the situation would depend on the autumn-winter period and the level of temperatures, as well as on the level of demand for gas in Europe and other markets Read more »

‘All of Holland paints': even after corona we will remain more do-it-yourself

Premium The best of De Telegraaf Through Gert van Harskamp 6 min ago in FINANCIAL AkzoNobel CEO Vanlancker: “Going on the ladder to give the house a lick of paint ... Read more »

Spirits industry pushes for states to lower state taxes on canned cocktails to compete with beer and hard seltzer

Close-up of discounted cans and cases of packaged cocktails on Safeway store shelves in Lafayette, California, December 31, 2020.Smith Collection/Gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images John Granata, co-founder of ... Read more »

Hoe moet de luchtvaart duurzamer? KLM-topman Pieter Elbers aan het woord

Minder vliegen? Ja, zegt Pieter Elbers, dat is ook een manier om de uitstoot van de luchtvaart te verminderen. Niet de oplossing an sich, zegt de president-directeur van KLM, maar ... Read more »

Renault eyes bigger production cut as chip shortage rumbles on

French carmaker Renault expects to produce at least 300,000 fewer vehicles this year due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips, three sources close to the firm told Reuters on ... Read more »

Situation on gas market remains tense, prices grow 3.5-fold in 2021 — Novak

At the same time, Russia expects to see a significant increase in gas demand in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region in 2021, the Deputy Prime Minister said Read more »

The Good Glamm Group acquires digital media platform ScoopWhoop

Darpan Sanghvi, co-founder and CEO, The Good Glamm Group Digital media platform ScoopWhoop has been acquired by The Good Glamm Group. This is the second acquisition by the company in ... Read more »

L&T Finance Holdings' net profit falls 10% to Rs 223 crore in Q2

L&T Finance Holdings (LTFH) on Wednesday reported a 10 per cent decline in its consolidated net profit to Rs 223 crore for the second quarter ended September 2021. The non-banking ... Read more »

EPFO added 14.81 lakh net subscribers in August

(Source: ShutterStock) Retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on October 20 said it added 14.81 lakh net subscribers during August 2021. “For the month of August 2021, the net ... Read more »

Russia not interested in endless growth of energy prices — Putin

The President noted that if there was a decline in consumption - and such situation eventually led to reduced consumption, it would also affect the producing companies Read more »