The government is under further pressure to alleviate Britain’s lorry driver shortage.
Groups have told Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng there’s an impact on supply chains and want a review of plans not to grant temporary work visas to drivers from the EU, and better training as pressure builds towards the Christmas period.
Ministers have previously said employers should invest in British workers but there’s a shortage and the DVLA cannot process licences and training quickly enough, partly due to industrial action by unions over concerns about COVID-19 working conditions in the Swansea offices.
Logistics UK, which represents freight firms, and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) say that while Brexit and Covid-19 caused lorry drivers to leave the UK, a temporary visa could lure them back. The two groups said in their letter a shortfall of about 90,000 HGV drivers “is placing increasingly unsustainable pressure on retailers and their supply chains”.
“While there was a shortage of HGV drivers prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, these two events have exacerbated situation.
“The pandemic halted driver training and testing for over 12 months, while an estimated 25,000 EU drivers returned home during the pandemic and following the end of the transition period.”
The start of the school year and return of workers to offices is likely to increase the number of deliveries and locations, and the industry is fast approaching its busiest period – the build up to Christmas.