Europe

HGV agency boss points out real cause of shortages ‘Covid only reason we have a crisis’

HGV shortage: Expert reveals ‘reason we have a crisis right now’

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HGV recruitment boss Keiran Smith has set out the reason behind the industry’s ongoing shortage of drivers. He told BBC Radio 5 Live despite arguments the problem lies with Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Driver Require CEO argued that “Brexit could have been dealt with.” Instead, Mr Smith pointed to the Covid pandemic encouraging older truckers to take early retirement as the issue that really brought on the shortage crisis.

Mr Smith told 5 Live: “The only we have a crisis right now is Covid induced essentially 40 to 50,000 of our older driver population to retire early.”

The host asked: “Nothing to do with Brexit?”

“There is always a Brexit element yes, there were 15 to 20,000 European workers who left,” replied Mr Smith.

“We also had problems with testing so we had about 20,000 fewer candidates going through the testing process and so on.”

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“But we could have dealt with that.

“That was within the magnitude that our industry could cope with.”

“The thing that really left fielded us was in the first quarter of this year 40 to 50,000 additional on top of that leaving the sector because of early retirement.

“And that is what left fielded the Government it left fielded the sector as a whole, and that is the shock that we were unable to cope with that magnitude on top of the existing Brexit and IR35 effects.”

It came after Boris Johnson clashed with BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker at the Conservative Pary conference in Manchester of the cause of the ongoing shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.

The BBC host argued that viewers watching would pin the problems with shortages on Brexit.

Mr Johnson disagreed strongly with the BBC presenter and slapped down the idea that Britain being outside the EU was a factor behind the lack of lorries on the roads.

Mr Walker told the Prime Minister: “People watching this morning will say this is related to Brexit.

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“I can hear them shouting, you can probably hear them shouting at the TV now.”

“I don’t think they are,” retorted Mr Johnson.

“I just mentioned China, to the best of my knowledge China is not in the EU.”

He continued: “If you think China is in the European Union or America in the European Union…”

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