The impact of the UK HGV driver shortage

06 September 2021

The impact of the UK HGV driver shortage

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As the UK has faced an HGV driver shortage in recent weeks, consumers are being faced with their favourite fast foods becoming impossible to get hold of and certain goods being scarce in the supermarket. What’s driving these shortages, why is it happening and what can we do to improve the situation?

The elusive McDonalds milkshake

In the age of convenience, we’re used with getting quick or instant access to things- entertainment, social media, food, and deliveries to name a few. Especially when it comes to big brands, we rely on them to be consistent and the same everywhere, always expecting them to deliver what they have on offer quickly and easily. So, what happens when our trusted brands can no longer do this?

In the past week or so, many fast-food outlets have faced upheaval due to shortages of stock. McDonald’s had to cut milkshakes from their menus- a popular choice for customers, especially in the summer months, and Nando’s had to close 50 of their restaurants due to a lack of chicken- which is what their entire menu is based around. It’s not just popular fast-food restaurants that have been affected, there have been shortages of items in supermarkets too and delays in producers receiving deliveries.

Why is there a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK?

The reason behind all this upheaval is a shortage of delivery drivers. Both Covid and Brexit play a big part in this. A survey by the Road Haulage Association found that there is currently a shortage of at least 100,000 drivers. There are a number of factors at play here which have caused the shortage:

  • A lot of EU drivers returned to their home countries before lockdown, as travel began to be restricted
  • Many EU drivers also left the UK due to Brexit
  • Lorry driving in the UK is no longer an attractive option for new EU workers due to the increased bureaucracy of Brexit and inability to freely travel back and forth
  • Prospective drivers were unable to learn or take the lorry driving test during the pandemic

In addition, many of these factors impact on pay as it has become more expensive for EU nationals to live or work in the UK which, coupled with the fact that some companies pay their drivers by distance rather than the hours worked, delays at the borders cause them to lose out on wages.

What can we learn from this?

While Covid and Brexit are two factors that are out with our control, this situation does shine a light on just how important truck drivers are. As one part in the supply chain, this shows how quickly things can unravel when that one part is neglected or impacted. Right now, not being able to get a milkshake in McDonalds is hardly a crisis, but this could continue to impact many different types of businesses and stages of the supply chain if it’s not dealt with effectively.

From a business point of view, it puts them in a negative light with consumers and jeopardises trust in their brand. This puts extra pressure on front line staff who may have to deal with complaints or negativity from disappointed customers, not to mention the potential loss of sales and revenue. Each link in the chain impacts on the other, and an effective strategy for managing the issue as it’s ongoing, and recovering afterwards, is crucial.

Some businesses are already coming up with greater incentives in recruiting new drivers, from joining bonuses to higher pay. Looking at implementing better working conditions and providing opportunities for training and support is going to be crucial in being able to attract new drivers not only to fulfil the shortages but to ensure long term job satisfaction and retention.

Ensure your supply chain is as resilient as possible

Even if there’s not much you can do about the UK HGV driver shortage, this is a good time to assess the other aspects of your supply chain and identify any possible risks or opportunities for improvement.

Further reading

Read our earlier blog on assessing your supply chain resilience to make sure that everything else is running as smoothly as possible.

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Written by

Donna Foulis

As Digital Content Executive with Ideagen, Donna creates content which delivers value to the reader and provides insights and solutions into the challenges they might be facing. With a strong background in content writing, Donna is passionate about creating quality pieces which resonate with our audience across the digital sphere.

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