U.K. Truck Driver Shortage After Brexit Emerges as Drag on Trade

Sign up for our Beyond Brexit weekly newsletter, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast. Almost a third of U.K. logistics companies expect to face trucker shortages this year, and a 10th say recruitment issues will pose an “extreme barrier” to the recovery of their business from the pandemic.

That’s according to lobby group Logistics UK, which called on the government to provide interest-free loans or grants to train more drivers to fill trucking jobs. It’s one of the labor shortfalls that has emerged partly because of border friction following Brexit.

Some 110 trained truck drivers claimed unemployment benefits in January, down 27% from a year ago.

Data from job search engine Adzuna show online advertisements for transport, logistics and warehouse jobs in February were 15% above the same period last year.

The report adds to evidence the Road Haulage Association delivered to U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week, warning that many drivers returned to their countries of origin during the pandemic due to lockdowns. The vast majority are not expected to return due to stricter visa rules following Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed on Thursday that the government would increase apprenticeship funding for drivers of large goods vehicles from July 1. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, said the industry still needed immediate help as demand for goods rises as lockdown restrictions lift. He warned that the cost of distribution for manufacturers and retailers is likely to increase, calling on the U.K.

Home Office to make it easier for haulage companies to recruit drivers from overseas.

(Updates with chart and Road Haulage Association comment.)