Lorry driver shortage will benefit UK in long term says Ros Atkins
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The BBC’s Ros Atkins has explained that the current lorry driver shortage shows an overhaul of the UK labour market that could eventually benefit the British worker. Britain has suffered from an ongoing supply chain crisis due to a lack of HGV drivers, amid growing blame on Brexit. There is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, according to the latest Road Haulage Association survey of its members.
However, Ros Atkins explained that this shortage “has to be put in perspective,” insisting that “most products are still available”.
He cited Tesco chairman John Allan who said there was “no reason for supermarket customers to panic buy – it is very easy to make a drama out of a modest crisis”.
Mr Atkins said: “The industry has for years relied heavily on drivers from the European Union
“Analysts showed that Brexit effectively ended recruitment from the European Union, making it impossible to recruit foreign HGV drivers.”
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He pointed to statistics that show a fall from 40,000 EU HGV drivers in the UK before the pandemic to the current figure of 25,000 EU workers.
Mr Atkins said: “There is a change in the labour market and an increase in demand for British workers.
“That is something the UK voted for in the Brexit referendum, and something that should be welcome.
“This is a shift in the UK labour market that the Government wants.”
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Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said that the increased demand for British drivers would mean better wages, and would be “good for British workers”.
Mr Shapps has repeatedly rejected EU immigration as a solution, saying: “We do have to stand on our own two feet as the United Kingdom.”
Mr Atkins continued: “This is a story that goes beyond Brexit but it remains a factor.
“The break from the EU had intended to reset how labour works in the UK. It is now doing that.”
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This comes amid a big push from companies towards improving pay, working conditions, and diversity.
Tesco is already offering drivers a £1,000 joining bonus while Aldi has increased wages for drivers.
Waitrose has given its drivers a pay rise of around £2 an hour while newly qualified drivers will receive a “welcome payment” of £1,000.
The Government is also expected to announce changes to the HGV driver testing process to get more newly qualified people into the haulage industry.
There is also £7,000 funding for the Large Goods Vehicle Driver apprenticeship scheme.
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