Business groups have asked the government to relieve “unsustainable pressure” on the supply chain by plugging Britain’s shortage of delivery drivers.
The bosses of the British Retail Consortium and Logistics UK, which collectively represent over 23,000 members, said business minister Kwasi Kwarteng should take “immediate action”.
Nodding to recent reports of food shortages, Helen Dickinson and David Wells urged Kwarteng to “ensure that our stores can continue to provide what the country needs” by:
- Tackling the backlog of driver tests, which have been delayed during lockdown, by increasing testing capacity
- Recruiting more hauliers by reforming the National Skills Fund to pay for HGV driver training
- Granting temporary work visas to drivers from the EU
Around 25,000 European lorry drivers are thought to have returned home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK is believed to have a shortfall of 90,000 hauliers, though some experts put this figure even higher.
It comes after supermarket supplier McBride was forced last week to ditch its profit projections amid delivery problems.
The company has struggled to fulfil orders in Britain, where a quarter of sales take place, and Germany thanks to the lack of lorry drivers.
It now expects pre-tax profits to be 55 per cent to 65 per cent lower than last year.