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HGV Driver Shortage Crisis

The HGV driver shortage is currently a major industry talking point.  With the shortage of an estimated 100,000 HGV drivers, worries about the stock levels on supermarket shelves have pushed the Government to spring into action with a package of measures aimed at reducing the risk of a crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a source of a lot of blame relating to the shortage, as many believe that the 30,000 HGV driving tests that had to be prolonged, due to the pandemic, have had a major impact upon the industry. Due to this, the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced that they were launching a plan that would enable them to conduct 1,500 passable HGV driving tests per week as a method of attempting to rectify the issue.

Another reason that has been cited as an issue are the implications of Brexit on the industry. Prior to Brexit there were tens of thousands of EU HGV drivers who were working within the UK. As a large number of these drivers have since left the UK, it is noted as a major contributor to the crisis.

One aspect of the package of measures that the Government have put in place is a consultation which will enable drivers to take one driving test for both a rigid and articulated lorry. This consultation offers a more streamlined process and will open up the availability of lorry driving tests. This consultation also aims to test drivers in off road manoeuvres and then determine the need for specific car and trailer tests whilst ensuring that road safety is maintained.

Another measure that is being introduced is the encouragement from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for people to re-join the industry after leaving it in order to help reduce the impact of the crisis. This includes the development of training that will be pushed through Jobcentre Plus.

Local councils have also been asked to allow for more flexibility with delivery options for drivers, enabling them to make deliveries earlier or later in the day.

These measures are aimed at increasing the amount of HGV drivers that are available and ready to work within the UK, helping to subside the impact of the current crisis.

This comes amongst news of a variety of supermarkets offering drivers recruitment incentives in order to boost the amount of hauliers supplying goods to stock their shelves amidst the crisis. Most of these incentives are financially motivated, with Tesco offering a £1,000 joining bonus for new drivers and Aldi offering a pay-rise for all lorry drivers under their employ. Morrisons is also working towards generating more interest by building schemes to train their staff to become lorry drivers.

As plans are still developing in order to help the crisis, there are fears that there may be issues with demand for stock on supermarket shelves over the next few months. These issues also extend to other industries, which may struggle to cope with the strain on the supply chain- especially with Christmas on the horizon.

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