HGV driver shortage pushes industry to brink of implosion

HGV driver shortage pushes industry to brink of implosion

16.6.2021 | Haulage

UK HGV Driver shortage crisis

Porttalk takes industry’s concerns to the media. 

The industry that kept the UK moving throughout the Pandemic teeters on brink of implosion due to a lack of HGV drivers

Urgent intervention required

The shortage of UK HGV drivers exacerbates with every week – and is even getting the attention of German media. But who in the UK is taking action to overcome the problem?

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has consistently warned the Government of the consequences of failing to act. Key members of East Anglia’s logistics community are right behind the industry association in demanding action.

Here at Porttalk we have been speaking with hauliers and others involved in the sector to understand the full extent of the issue.

Paula Bennett of Porttalk says: “The current problem is caused by a range of issues coming together simultaneously, which in turn are prompting unprecedented measures from hauliers to recruit and retain drivers.”

The issues include but are not restricted to:
• Drivers not being added to the UK Shortage Occupation List
• Brexit
• IR35 tax changes
• National HGV driver shortage stands at 60,000
• Travel restrictions due to CV-19
• Sector apprenticeships are not fit for purpose
• 30,000 backlog of cancelled HGV driving tests, leaving potential drivers side-lined

Current measures undertaken to recruit and retain drivers include:
• Shock tactics – for example, scantily clad women waving recruitment placards on the Port of Felixstowe roundabout, and which received significant media attention
• Haulage companies offering drivers £1,000 sign up fees and off the scale wages
• Subcontractor bidding wars with drivers holding out for the highest bidder
• Inflated price per mile contracts for subcontractors and unsustainable weekly mileage guarantees

RHA Area Manager Tom Cornwell said: “It won’t be long before the impact of the driver shortage crisis is felt beyond our industry as the costs of moving goods rises significantly – and those costs will have to be passed on to the consumer. This is a critical issue for the economy, and it’s why we’ve issued ministers with a number of short- and long-term solutions to get people behind the wheel.”
Jason Flower, chairman of The Felixstowe Port Users’ Association, adds: “With Brexit sending ripples throughout the wider logistics sector, nobody envisaged it would impede the availability of qualified drivers. Critically impacting on hauliers’ ability to do business, it’s heartening to see the industry come together as a whole and appealing to government to work with us to find a way out of this untenable situation.”

A selection of viewpoints from Suffolk members of the logistics community:

Paul Miller – Chief Executive of Goldstar Transport
“The driver shortage is worsening by the day resulting in a considerable deficit in availability and an actual inability to cover volume.

“The recent changes to IR35 legislation are forcing agencies to increase rates upward. UK occupational shortage list regulations restricting European drivers’ availability and lack of training due to CV-19 has reduced the number of new drivers coming into the industry and has created the perfect storm. There will be vehicles stood and cargo not delivered as a result.”

Mark Bennett – Operations Director VKVP Haulage
“On average, we’re standing down ten trucks a day because of lack of drivers. Operating a fleet of 70 HGVs means that 15% of our business potential is sat in the yard. Running at 85% capacity due to forces beyond your control is far from a sound business model and needs somebody in government to act. And fast.”

Kevin Lawrenson – Founder and Managing Director of 3PL Haulage and Felixstowe Port Users’ Association haulage representative
“The UK truck driver shortage has without doubt worsened, and with summer looming, will end up in crisis.

“As we are aware, there are many factors behind this ever-decreasing industry; compounded further as a third of the UK drivers are over 55 and heading for retirement and Brexit ending recruitment from the EU. We now see haulage and recruitment companies offering the impossible to create an unwarranted merry-go-round for all haulage contractors.

“On top of continuous increases in fuel, insurances and driver demands, haulage companies are unavoidably reviewing and increasing their haulage prices to survive.”

Miles Vartan – Founder and Director of Vartan Risk Management Consultancy and Felixstowe Port User’s Association vice-chairman
“When running a transport fleet in the early 2000s for Charles Gee & Co Limited, attracting drivers to come to work for us was a real problem then. Working with a new company set up in Felixstowe called Polish Personnel Poland, we managed to fill our numbers.

“Poland joined the EU in 2004; Polish workers looked to the UK to get 6.89 Polish Zloty to the Pound in early June. Driving jobs were advertised, the free movement of people was encouraged, and British hauliers could offer a good job driving new state of the art equipment.

“Marek Okólski & John Salt published a paper in 2014 as part of ‘Central and Eastern European Migration Review looking at Polish Emigration to the UK after 2004; Why Did So Many Come?’ – in their summary as to why the UK experienced this migration their concluding phrase was ‘right people, right place, and right circumstances.

“This solution to our problems in 2005 was a sticking plaster that temporarily resolved the problem; our vehicles were back out on the road. Today’s industry issue results from not coming up with a long-term solution back then and not making an LGV Driver’s job accessible, attractive, and an opportunity to secure a long-term future then and now. Today you can get 5.19 Polish Zloty to the Pound; combined with other factors such as the UK’s position on immigration following Brexit, the impact of IR35 and the effects of COVID-19, EU drivers have already headed home.”

Urgent request from HMRC

Urgent request from HMRC

16.6.2021 | Customs

Urgent request from HMRC

Have you decided to use delayed declarations or are you potentially interested in doing so? 

HMRC is looking to speak to businesses who bring goods into the UK from the EU, and either:

• have decided to use delayed declarations (whether they have already made their supplementary declaration or not).
• would be potentially interested in using delayed declarations.

They would be looking to speak to approximately five businesses. The sessions would take about 45 minutes to an hour, and there would be an interview section, and then they would show them some guidance pages to get their feedback.

They would be looking at offering time slots from 9-5:

• Friday the 18th
• Monday the 21st
• Tuesday the 22nd

They are also happy to be flexible with dates if other days would suit.

Please note these sessions are entirely voluntary, and all information from the sessions will be confidential.

We appreciate the short notice and would be extremely grateful for any support.

Please contact
jccccustomsguidancesubgroup@hmrc.gov.uk or simon.edwards@hmrc.gov.uk as soon as possible if you can help with this request or let them know if you have any questions.

How to spot a scam and avoid becoming a victim of fraud

How to spot a scam and avoid becoming a victim of fraud

15.6.2021 | Tax

How to spot a scam and avoid becoming a victim of fraud

Andrew Diver, Head of Taxation at Beatons Group, advises how to protect yourself from fraud.

Scams appear to be on the rise, especially those claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

According to HMRC, it responded to more than 1.1million referrals of suspicious contact from the public in the last 12 months, up to April 2021.

Of these, more than 570,000 were offering false tax rebates.

Criminals often target the most vulnerable in society – with Age UK reporting 43% of people aged 65 or over have been the target of scammers.

However, it is something everyone – from individuals to businesses – should be aware of.

Here, Andrew Diver, Head of Taxation at Beatons Group, gives advice on how to protect yourself from fraud.

How to identify a scam
Scammers have become more sophisticated over the years, with many now mimicking government messages to appear authentic.

HMRC is among the most popular organisations scammers claim to be, using its credibility to dupe people into handing over their hard-earned cash.

However, there are a few things to look out for – if a call, email or text is unexpected, offers a refund, grant or tax rebate, asks for personal information like bank details or asks to transfer money, it could be a scam.

If you receive a call, HMRC will only ever ask you about a claim or payment you already know about and will never leave a voicemail threatening legal action.

Ultimately, it is better to be suspicious of a message and wrong than trust it and open yourself up to fraud.

What to do if you suspect a call is bogus
Above all, never give out your personal or financial details to anyone you cannot prove is genuine.

If you cannot verify the identity of the caller, do not speak to them.

Do not click on any links or reply to any texts you think may be scams or pay them any money.

If the call is genuine, a real organisation will not mind you double-checking.

The best way to do that is to contact the company directly on a known email or telephone number.

Do not interact with the messages at all – don’t even confirm personal information is accurate as this could also be used by fraudsters.

You can then report the suspicious incidents to Action Fraud on its website at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 1232040.

London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

15.4.2021 | Ports

London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

“Will further cement our position as the  preferred carrier of choice on the short sea trades of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.” 

Hutchison Ports London Thamesport has welcomed its second new short-sea sailing in less than a week with the first call of a new W.E.C. Line service to Bilbao.

The Spanish short sea market has historically offered cargo owners little option when it comes to carrier choice.W.E.C. Lines is changing that with an innovative new direct service to London Thamesport.

Commenting on the new sailing, Mark Taylor, Director, London Thamesport, said:

“Brexit has shaken up the European logistics landscape with more and more operators seeking the reliability and predictability afforded by short sea container services. London Thamesport is ideally situated to service this trade, and we are delighted that W.E.C. Lines have chosen us for this new service.”

Roger Megann, Managing Director of W.E.C. Lines UK, said:

“This is a major milestone in the success story of W.E.C. Lines and will further cement our position as the preferred carrier of choice on the short sea trades of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

“More cargo owners can see the benefit of converting freight from the traditional but expensive trailer option to the flexible and cost, carbon-friendly modality of containers. Since Brexit, the conventional short sea routes from Spain have been congested, and supply chains have been damaged.

“W.E.C. Lines and London Thamesport offer a market-leading transit time of 72 hours and a congestion-free UK port. Container haulage turnaround times are the fastest in the country. Our investment in owned tonnage, rail and equipment is a vast commitment, and further expansion of rail to other major Spanish cities will follow.”

W.E.C. Lines offers its customers a one-stop-shop including customs clearance, cross-docking, canvas haulage, warehousing, and many other facilities.

VARTAN expands team

VARTAN expands team

16.06.2021 | Risk Management

VARTAN consultancy expands team

Double appointment for customs compliance, AEO and health and safety specialist.


VARTAN Consultancy has been busy recruiting over the last few weeks and is pleased to announce the appointments of Kevin Gostick and Josh Vartan.

Joining the team in the role of consultant, Kevin has worked directly for large logistics companies (including DHL Supply Chain, TNT, Eddie Stobart, and FedEx) and closely with shipping lines, hauliers, and freight forwarders. As manager of a large LLP, Kevin understands the complexity of the international supply chain and the importance of what lies at the heart of it – customers.

His valuable experience in logistics, control tower management, warehousing and contract management brings a wealth of knowledge to the VARTAN team.

Josh Vartan joins as a management trainee and is also studying for his BTEC Level 3 apprenticeship in business management.

Part of Josh’s apprenticeship will be related to customs clearance which is his current focus whilst training at VARTAN.
By combining the knowledge gained from day-to-day work at VARTAN with his apprenticeship course, Josh will be able to readily assist with requests from clients in relation to queries they may have with processes and procedures.

Miles Vartan says of both appointments: “With Kevin and Josh joining the team, we’re benefiting two-fold. Firstly, from the wealth of experience that Kevin brings from a career that has seen him work with the biggest logistics businesses, and we’re investing in the sector’s future by bringing on young and enthusiastic team members to take the industry forward.”

For more information about VARTAN Consultancy visit vartanconsultancy.com