EV Cargo, the UK’s largest privately-owned logistics provider, is urging the UK Government to do more to deliver a short-term solution to address the country’s current supply chain challenges.
The ongoing and well-documented driver shortage is being compounded by manufacturing, retail and supply chain workers having to undertake necessary COVID-19 ‘pingdemic’ self-isolations.
So far, Government measures to alleviate the problem include extending drivers’ hours and increasing capacity at DVSA test sites for new recruits acquiring their HGV licences.
However, EV Cargo believes this will not deliver the short-term solution required and says supply chain workers should be recognised as both skilled and essential in keeping goods flowing to retailers across the nation.
Michael Conroy, EV Cargo UK chief executive, said: “The current rules around self-isolation are due to change on 16 August, but we are calling on the Government to step in now and recognise logistics workers as being critical to maintaining the UK’s supply chains.
“A record number of more than 600,000 people have been told to self-isolate last week and that’s looking set to increase again, but we believe that if logistics workers have had both doses of the vaccine and have tested negative, they should be exempt.
“The Government should also add HGV drivers to the post-Brexit skills shortage occupation list, allowing EU drivers to work in the UK and add some much-needed driving capacity. Drivers need to obtain two licences and complete annual professional development training to undertake work, so the profession is clearly highly-skilled.
“These are two short-term measures which we believe would have a significant impact and help alleviate the immediate challenges. The issue is simple supply and demand, the demand within the UK supply chain is high and the pool of available UK drivers needs both protected and bolstered immediately.
“We are working closely with our customers and leveraging our agility and resource across the entire business to find solutions. But many retailers and supermarkets are already concerned that, if not addressed, the wider national situation will negatively impact supplies and some are already closing stores or reducing hours.
Mr Conroy said that the recently-announced additional DVSA testing capacity would take months before producing any tangible results and the changes would need to ensure drivers were adequately trained to maintain standards around safety and quality.
“Relaxing the drivers’ hours was seen to be a quick win by the Government but it has been universally recognised by the industry as being ineffective and potentially counter-productive,” he added.