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UK driver shortage: military may drive more HGVs; supermarkets urged to cooperate

The military may be drafted in to drive more lorries so as to avoid Christmas shortages of food and non-food products in the UK, it has been reported. Meanwhile, amid the UK's supply crisis, the CEO of the Cold Chain Federation has suggested that supermarkets should look to share lorries in order to maximise the capacity available in the country.

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According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, “multiple senior government figures have indicated they are willing to seek an extension of the Military Assistance to Civilian Authorities [MACA] order that allows soldiers to be drafted in, if problems finding new HGV drivers persist.”

The military are of course already driving fuel tankers in order to stop petrol stations in some areas of the country running dry.

Meanwhile, Shane Brennan, CEO of the Cold Chain Federation, has told the Grocer that supermarkets ought to collaborate in order to make the most of the capacity hauliers in the UK can currently offer.

Mr Brennan told the retail news website:

“The biggest choice every one of the major supermarkets has got this week, is: ‘are we going to have a survival of the fittest Christmas or are we going to all work together and try and get through Christmas?'”
The Cold Chain Federation CEO added:
“The problem with crisis is that everyone fights to protect their own. So what you’re finding is businesses fighting to protect the certainty of their own deliveries and that pushes against collaboration and co-ordination of efficiencies.”
The comments from Mr Brennan come amid a flurry of stories related to the HGV driver shortage in the UK, including the following:
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has turned to Sir David Lewis, former CEO of Tesco, to help remedy the country’s supply chain crisis
  • Bus companies in the UK are also reporting shortages of drivers, with some claiming the shortage has been exacerbated by bus drivers being attracted into the haulage sector by rising wages
  • Steve Barclay, the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has written an article on the driver shortage in the Daily Mail. In the piece, Mr Barclay blamed various global supply chain issues for the situation the country finds itself in, and doubled down on the government’s policy to limit “imported labour” that undercuts UK-based workers.
  • Logistics and haulage company The Pallet Network has called for a government-backed insurance scheme. The company tweeted yesterday: “Many fleet insurers refuse young or inexperienced drivers, or want prohibitively high premiums or excesses. Remove these obstacles in order to employ #THENextGeneration.”
  • Duncan Buchanan, the Road Haulage Association’s Policy Director, has revealed that he is now banned from cabinet office level meetings with the logistics sector. Writing on Twitter, Mr Buchanan maintained that he was not the source of the leak regarding BP’s petrol shortage woes, and described the Daily Mail piece about the RHA Rod McKenzie as a “hatchet job”.

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