News & Insights

MTL Support the Road Haulage Association (RHA) Call to UK Government for Industry Support

On your recent visits to the local shop or supermarket, you may have noticed a scarcity of products and some empty shelves. Several issues contribute to the challenges for supply chains, the transportation industry, and retailers today. These include the shortage of HGV drivers, the coronavirus pandemic, and Brexit, all causing delays in manufacturing and distribution.

The RHA estimates there is currently a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK. The coronavirus pandemic has seen travel become highly restricted, and many haulage companies have commented European drivers have simply decided not to return to the UK due to Covid-19 and the new Brexit regulations.

The RHA warned supermarkets are already voicing concerns about not receiving their expected food stocks. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has also acknowledged industry-wide issues and challenges.

Take Action Now To Prevent A Crisis

Recently, the RHA called upon Prime Minister Boris Johnson to 'take action' and address the HGV driver shortage. The industry and the sectors it support needs intervention and a roadmap for the future.

RHA article shelves

In response to the RHA call, a government spokesperson said it had increased testing for lorry drivers. In addition to this, the government stated it is paying for more apprentices and is allowing current drivers to increase their working hours.

The new rules mean drivers can increase their daily driving limit twice a week from nine hours to eleven hours. Pre Covid, the estimated shortage of HGV drivers across the industry was about 60,000. These figures demonstrate the pandemic certainly can't be blamed for driver shortage but has exacerbated an already critical situation.

Transport and Compliance Manager at McLanachan Transport, Keith Crozier, commented, "It's a worrying situation, and as an industry, we should all never underestimate the importance of experienced and dedicated HGV drivers. At McLanachan Transport, we have always valued our drivers by ensuring we make our company and the industry an attractive career proposition."

Keith added, "We have a strong team, but we are also continually looking to recruit across all business operations. As an organisation, we support a multitude of sectors and product supply chains. Our fleet and drivers are at the core of our business. So, we have invested over the years in recruitment and training. Several factors contribute to our driver recruitment and retention success, including; a modern fleet and vehicle quality, good pay rates, a supportive business culture, and listening to our drivers when they have concerns or suggestions.

It's well documented that there is currently a significant backlog in HGV driver tests, with the pandemic once again the primary focus for blame for some people. Our business is in an enviable position to have great people at our core, but we can still be affected by these backlogs, especially when it comes to taking on apprentices to train for the future."

Tesco Stores have indicated that the lack of HGV drivers creates an incredible 48 tonnes of food waste every week. A sad statistic considering the rise in food banks across the UK. Fresh goods are especially suspectable to these challenges, and haulage operators are required to have even more robust scheduling processes and ensure the correct legislative customs documentation is in place. Sainsbury's and other supermarkets have increased their distribution rates due to the HGV driver shortage.

McLanachan Transport Managing Director Damian McLanachan commented. "As a business, we are encouraged by and support the RHA call to the government. The driver shortage is not something new - however, contributing factors bring us to where we are now. Industries including the fresh and frozen goods sector and pharmaceutical organisations are critical to our daily lives and health. Unfortunately, our industry is often overlooked, and the end-user give little thought to what would happen if the shelves were to remain bare. I congratulate the RHA for taking action and would now urge the government to do the same."

RHA article Damian

Damian (pictured above) continued, "The impact that the driver shortage, pandemic and Brexit has caused across the industry is evident. I'm proud that the structure, processes and people within our business have not only allowed us to push through these challenges, but our business growth is very encouraging. That's where the new challenges of additional driver recruitment come into play. We've also increased our office administrative team to cope with demand and new customs documentation to support our clients further."    

Supply chains across the globe are being affected by the driver shortage, and recent incidents, including the Suez Canal tanker blockage, have certainly caused further delays and issues.

If you are interested in a career at McLanachan Transport, please visit our careers page

You can read the RHA Driver Shortage Actions Paper here

You can add your signature to the Add HGV Drivers to the UK Government Shortage Occupations List here