We are slipping into a desperate crisis which has been inflicted by this blinkered government. The crucial sinews which hold the British supply network together have been seriously damaged. The HGV driver shortage in the UK is estimated at 100,000 and this shortage is having a knock on effect. For example, drivers of local authority recycling vehicles are now being poached by desperate haulage companies and already recycling collections are being affected.
One HGV driver has been offered an increase of £7.00 an hour to stay with his present employer! The cost of these cash bonuses will, of course, be passed on to the consumer.
Why has this happened? It has happened because the government has made European HGV drivers feel unwelcome in the UK. These drivers went back to Europe when the pandemic hit and, not surprisingly, have not come back.
The government’s solution to this crisis is to offer bonuses for HGV apprentices. However, the National Haulage Association states that it takes 18 months to train an HGV driver. Moving to smaller vehicles will simply increase the problem by placing more pressure on drivers, putting more lorries on the road and less freight being moved.
The shortage of drivers is already having a knock-on effect – petrol stations are shutting, supermarkets are having problems filling shelves, pubs are running short of certain beers and popular take away restaurants are reducing menus. West England Bylines highlighted the HGV Driver Shortage affecting getting pigs to market back in early September.
Finding 100,000 new HGV drivers will not be easy. Also, flooding busy roads with inexperienced drivers will be potentially dangerous.
The average age of UK HGV drivers is 55. So the problem is not going to go away. Britain, like other countries such as Japan and China, has an ageing population and so it does not have enough younger workers to do the necessary jobs, and pay tax, to support the older population. Consequently, immigrant workers are a necessity to plug the gap. China has relaxed its one child policy and even Japan is beginning to let in migrant workers.
The UK’s dogmatic government is increasingly locking us into an unsustainable situation caused by cutting us off from a large, flexible work force after forty years of being reliant on that work force. They are also trying to deflect responsibility by blaming the pandemic for the problems.
As our Minister for Transport, you declared that we must “stand on our own two feet”, which is not at all helpful when we are short of at least 100,000 HGV drivers. Facing reality and not acting like ostriches is what a responsible government should be doing, particularly when many of the problems are of their own making.
Granting temporary visas for 5,000 foreign drivers won’t solve the problem Johnson has caused either. What about the other 95,000 drivers still needed?
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