Sir David Davis comments on driver shortages in the HGV sector


As published by The Daily Express:

DAVID DAVIS launched a scathing attack on the HGV sector as he accused the industry of not paying attention to simmering issues which he claimed have resulted in a massive driver shortage sparking chaos in Britain.

The former Brexit Secretary told LBC how a host of issues including haulage companies not training their own drivers along with a lack of pressure from the Government has meant the chickens have come home to roost in Britain’s HGV industry as the nation feels the full impact of a 100,000 driver shortage.

Mr Davis slammed how central to the issues is that the industry itself “didn’t pay attention early enough” to early warning signs.

He explained how he used to run a transport company himself and it was there where he realised haulage firms “don’t do their own work to train their own drivers”.

The Conservative MP claimed how this issue was compounded over many years as the Government didn’t do enough to push them to act on the systemic issues.

He said: “We knew this would be a problem, we were hoping it wouldn’t be but we thought it might be a problem for Brexit three, four years ago.”

He questioned “what have they been doing since” as he laid the blame on the industry as Britain is gripped by multiple shortages in the supply chain from food to fuel.

But he insisted the issue is “soluble” as he claimed the Government can take further action to combat the issue now Britain is out of the European Union.

Mr David added: We have now released, by deregulation outside of the European Union, an extra 30,000 testing places so it is possible to do it”

According to the Road Haulage Association, there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers in the UK.

Many have speculated as to the reason for the shortages, with Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, and working conditions being some of the most common suggestions.

The chaos has also been compounded by a massive backlog of tests and driver applications at the DVSA due to a slow down of testing sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

With strikes at the DVSA have also created conditions for what ministers have branded “a perfect storm”.

The shortages have also triggered a petrol panic in Britain as the lack of drivers delivering petrol saw a collapse in the supply chain, spurred on by panic buying Britons who stormed forecourts to fill up following the news.

Labour shortages as a result of the pandemic, Brexit, and a lack of foreign workers are also behind issues within Britain’s supply chains which have also sent food prices soaring as fears rise over empty shelves as Britain edges closer to Christmas.

It comes as a farm haulage company told Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday Britons could see a 40 per cent rise in food prices as hauliers hike rates for drivers to keep them in their jobs and attract new drivers to the industry.

To address shortages in the industry the Government has agreed to grant 5,000 temporary, three-month visas to lorry drivers.

It comes as the British Army began delivering fuel to forecourts up and down the country on Monday to cope with the driver drought.