Hundreds of thousands of heavy-goods vehicle drivers aren’t working, says minister, as UK govt vows to tackle haulage crisis

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A British minister has vowed to tackle the country’s haulage crisis by getting the domestic workforce back into driving jobs, claiming that there are hundreds of thousands of people with HGV licences who aren’t working.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday morning, junior business minister Paul Scully said the shortage of haulage drivers wasn’t just a British problem, noting huge challenges in Poland, Germany and Canada.

Scully said that attempting to entice foreign drivers to the UK, and offering them visas, would not work because of the shortages across Europe. As a result, the government would be looking at domestic options.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in the country that have HGV licences, either full or partial, that are not working at the moment,” the minister stated, noting that the big question was how to encourage them back to work. 

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He also suggested the government would work to increase the number of licence tests, noting that many tests had been delayed because of the pandemic.

According to media reports, Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket group, told the government last week that there would be panic-buying in the run-up to Christmas if action was not taken to alleviate the shortage of haulage drivers.

Scully called on people not to involve themselves in panic-buying, noting that this would lead to food inflation which directly impacts the poorest families.

The National Farmers’ Union has also asked the prime minister to address the “crippling labour shortages” across the supply chain and introduce a new visa system.

The haulage industry suggests it needs as many as 90,000 drivers to meet demand following Brexit. It is also understood that many of Britain’s existing drivers are approaching retirement age.

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