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.”

RHA speaks out

RHA speaks out

19.5.2021 | Haulage

RHA speaks out

The RHA lobbies for HGV drivers to be added to UK shortage occupation list and launches tail lift guidance. 

RHA speaks out about the shortage of HGV drivers and publishes long-awaited guidance to improve safety around the use of tail lifts.

The RHA has urged ministers to add HGV drivers to Home Office UK Shortage Occupation List to help fix the growing driver shortage.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett told Grant Shapps that the Government needed to do more to help the industry recruit new talent as the driver shortage exceeds 60,000.

Haulage firms struggle to get access to Apprenticeship Levy money to fund training, and the shutdown of vocational driving tests last year saw a loss of more than 30,000 test slots. New IR35 tax rules have seen some firms cancel deliveries as they can’t get agency drivers.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary, he said the industry is facing a perfect storm and warned that a growing driver shortage will hit the supply chain and affect the Government’s plans to ‘build back better’ as hospitality opens up again.
“If we do not do something soon the industry will be unable to maintain the integrated supply chains and cope with artificial spikes caused by hot weather and the easing of lockdown, increasing demand for food and drink into supermarkets, pubs and restaurants and goods into retail outlets.”

The RHA has also launched its Tail Lift and Pallet Truck Guidance Document which aims to help operators reduce the risk of death and serious injury when palletised goods are delivered by vehicles fitted with tail lifts.

The guidance sets out industry best practice and supports businesses to review their health and safety processes.

It helps firms with establishing safe systems of work, risk assessments, staff training and support, incident reporting, equipment maintenance, and reminds employers of their responsibilities and is the culmination of several years’ work by the RHA, the Association of Pallet Networks, haulage and logistics operators, and transport law experts Backhouse Jones.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provided technical support to the group as they developed the guidance which has been keenly anticipated across the haulage and logistics industry.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “This guidance offers operators who move palletised goods essential advice to keep their staff and others as safe as possible.

“I cannot thank our partners in the working group and HSE technicians enough for helping us pull this document together that should make our working environments safer.”

HSE head of transport and public services unit, Harvey Wild said: “We believe that this guidance is an important step for the industry in improving the safety of tail-lift deliveries and we have provided technical support to the working group during the production of the document.”

Find out more about the RHA.

Freight 24 acquires W J Capper Transport Ltd

Freight 24 acquires W J Capper Transport Ltd

19.5.2021 | Logistics

Freight 24 acquires W J Capper Transport Ltd

Suffolk business progresses buy and build strategy.


Progressive logistics group Freight 24 has acquired Telford-based W J Capper Transport Ltd, a founding member of PalletForce. 

Graeme Connor, group managing director of Freight 24, says: “As a group, we’re delighted to add W J Capper Transport Ltd to our portfolio of companies.  Based in Wellington, Telford, they’ve been in business for the last 70 years and bring with them all the values of a successful family business –customer service, reliability, and a quality product range at a competitive price.”

 With the capacity to run 22 vehicles from its Wellington site, W J Capper Transport Ltd is one of PalletForces’ top UK performers.  Ross Bryant, group operations director, says: “This acquisition offers Freight 24 excellent foundations on which to grow the group over the coming years; already we’ve identified several opportunities local to Telford that we’re keen to explore.  These will then help grow the business and aid us with building our operating sites in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.”

 This latest acquisition for Freight 24 takes the group’s forecasted turnover for 2021 to £10m+.  Graeme Connor continues: “With the expert knowledge of our advisors, we managed to complete the transaction with full due diligence in an impressive six weeks. This acquisition, along with other businesses that we have brought under the Freight 24 umbrella, including Imorex Shipping Services, helps build the footings for our long-term buy and build strategy. 

 “The purchase of W J Capper Transport gives us an excellent foundation on which to build and grow, and we’d be very interested to hear from any logistics businesses that are keen to sell to or join the group.”

For more information about Imorex visit imorex.co.uk

Maze Logistic Solutions Progresses Fleet Investment Programme

Maze Logistic Solutions Progresses Fleet Investment Programme

4.5.2021 | Haulage

Maze progresses fleet investment programme

Vehicle purchase based on fuel efficiency, reliability, safety technology & driver satisfaction. 

Container transport specialist Maze Logistic Solutions is progressing its fleet investment programme with the delivery of five new Mercedes Actros tractor units.

On the road, the new Actros units, supplied by Mercedes Orwell Truck and Van, join an already 120 strong multi-marque fleet of own vehicles and dedicated subcontractors.

Suffolk based Maze Logistic Solutions’ Ryan Jiggens explains: “Our purchase of the Mercedes tractor units was based on several factors most notably, fuel efficiency, vehicle reliability, safety technology and driver satisfaction.

“Our significant investment in new equipment coupled with our innovative technological capabilities puts us in the best position possible and fully prepared to meet industry challenges now and in the future.”

Over the last ten years, independently owned Maze has provided a comprehensive range of UK wide services, including container logistics, distribution and warehousing, specialist haulage and tailored surface transport solutions.

For more information about Maze Logistic Solutions visit mazesolutions.co.uk

RHA reacts to IR35 and driver shortages

RHA reacts to IR35 and driver shortages

04.5.2021 | Haulage

RHA reacts to IR35 and driver shortages

Voice of the industry believes if it isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption. 

Driver shortages, IR35 and what the RHA wants.

The RHA is calling for urgent Government action to ease a growing crisis in driver shortages ~ made worse by the introduction of IR35 tax changes. Pallet firms in particular are having to extend-next day deliveries by up to five days.

The situation was critical even before the pandemic with many EU truckers heading home for obvious Brexit-related reasons. Add to that the complete failure to test new drivers during lockdown which left a backlog of thousands of tests – and potential drivers side-lined.
Covid-19 saw the introduction of IR35 delayed by one year but it’s now hitting many firms and drivers.

No one likes a pay cut and drivers’ anger resulted in walkouts and self-furloughing – further exacerbating the driver shortage.
The RHA is calling on the Government to act:

• Driving tests – we are arguing for greater maximum priority for vocational drivers to clear the backlog.
• RHA’s Road to Logistics recruitment and training programme and programmes like KickStart are vital to get new blood into the industry. Hundreds of would-be lorry drivers are desperate to work but the test delays means they can’t get their all-important HGV licenses.
• Occupation Shortage List. We are insisting that Government puts lorry drivers on the list, thereby allowing EU and other foreign drivers to fill some rota gaps – there is also a massive driver shortage in the EU.
• Apprenticeships – we have paid £500m into the Levy and have got back just £50m – a very unfair pay-out for an industry with a critical staff and youth shortage.
• We need more funding to pay for the expensive lorry training.
• Driver facilities – we can’t expect people to want to join our industry if no toilets, wash facilities or safe and secure parking exists.
• Drivers’ hours relaxations won’t help because they doesn’t deal with the fundamental underlying problems. Making people work longer hours isn’t the solution.

Rod McKenzie, RHA policy managing director said: “The RHA firmly believes that if the voice of the industry isn’t heard there will be uncontrolled supply chain disruption. This will impact many businesses ability to recover from the pandemic. Time is tight and action now is critically important.”

For more information visit rha.uk.net 

VKVP Haulage opts for retreads

VKVP Haulage opts for retreads

19.5.2021 |Haulage

VKVP Haulage opts for retreads

Haulier reaffirms commitment to reducing its carbon emissions.


With a responsible eye on its impact on the environment, logistics specialist VKVP Haulage has committed to utilising retread tyres across its fleet, underpinning the company’s ongoing strategy of reducing its operational effects on our planet.

VKVP Haulage transport compliance manager, Tony Willats, explains: “The production of one retread tyre, for example, saves up to 75 litres of oil, compared to manufacturing a new tyre. As it’s a legal requirement that retreads are tested to the same ECE109 criteria as new tyres the change in purchasing enables us to make a difference but retain our existing tyre performance.”

Formed in 2014 VKVP Haulage provides a comprehensive range of container transport services to the supply chain industry and operates a fleet of over 55 vehicles and 80 dedicated trailers from the ports of Felixstowe, London Gateway, and Southampton.

For more information about VKVP Haulage visit VKVP-haulage.co.uk