News

HGV driver crisis could cause rising food prices and shortages, minister warns

14 Aug 2021 2 minutes Read
Image by David Dixon (CC BY-SA 2.0). Inset: Lesley Griffiths MS.

Lesley Griffiths MS has expressed ‘significant concerns’ about the potentially ‘far reaching’ consequences of the HGV driver shortage.

The Minister for Rural Affairs warns of further supply chain disruption and possible food price inflation unless the UK Government tackles the issue.

She describes frustration with the UK Government’s approach and a failure to add HGV drivers to the Home Office’s Skills Shortage Occupation list.

In a written update to Senedd members, she says: “The food chain is being impacted by staff shortages across the chain and the shortage of HGV drivers is of significant concern.”

The Wrexham MS said the crisis was caused by a combination of factors including Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and changes to the tax status of self-employed hauliers.

‘Inflation’

She stated: “The consequences of a driver shortage are far-reaching and can contribute to more food waste and disruption of food supplies into food charities.

“There is upward pressure on driver wages which is likely to filter through to food price inflation.”

The driver shortages in Wales have been described as the worst experienced for the past 50 years with many supermarkets struggling to fill shelves.

The UK Government is reported to be considering calling in the army to try and alleviate the situation with an estimated UK-wide shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers.

Lesley Griffiths says she met with UK Environment Secretary George Eustice in July and expressed ‘frustration’ with his attitude that problems should be ‘largely resolved the industry’.

Since the meeting, she said the situation had improved with the UK Government having increased the speed of HGV license testing and relaxed some of the rules on driver hours.

Immigration

But she says the solutions to the ongoing problems remain with the UK Government, including their policies on immigration.

“The resolution of the problem of a shortage of HGV drivers and wider food chain worker shortages is largely the responsibility of the UK Government, including its immigration rules,” she stated.

“The Welsh Government is doing all it can to alleviate the situation including being the first UK nation to remove the contact tracing isolation requirement on 7 August for twice vaccinated individuals.

She said that the ‘pingdemic’ did not appear to have been a major cause of disruption and praised the Welsh public for not having resorted to panic buying.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
12 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cynan
Cynan
1 month ago

Could it? It already is. Prices started rising suddenly mere months after the Brexit vote in 2016 and we were still members of the single market then. I am cursed with a good memory and my weekly family shop since 2016 has increased by 35% in 6 years. That last 5% since January of this year, which of course coincided with a reduction of choice and an increase in empty shelves. A much liked Romanian driver of my son’s acquaintance has just moved elsewhere in the EU. Not because of the complex haulage rules (he lived in Swindon and drove… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Cynan
Vic Bray
Vic Bray
1 month ago

There are thousands of HGV licence holders, like me, who have moved on to different jobs because of the low wages, long hours, often camping in the cab in a layby with vehicles hammering past, being treated badly by the people you’re delivering to, denied access to toilets (even though they have a legal requirement to provide them).
The answer is to improve the conditions and pay for truck drivers.
Just remember if you have it, a truck driver got it to you.

Cynan
Cynan
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic Bray

Absolutely. And since they can’t rely on migrant drivers any more (having demonised and punished them) the ONLY viable option is to improve wages and conditions.
Thus far, they have just increased danger to all drivers by “permitting” HGV drivers to drive more hours per day. What could possibly go wrong

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Cynan

I drove a large van, with trailer, for a year or two, as part of my installation work,
So I used to meet truckers, share some conditions, and it’s just as Vic says.
If late for B&B I would camp in back, and the whoosh as vehicles past on a cold night is really something. No wonder some get nervous breakdowns.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

As far back as I can remember there has always been a shortage of HGV drivers, mainly down to crap pay, conditions, and hours, rather than improving pay and conditions the UK companies took on foreign drivers and EU companies also moved into the UK market, now the UK is returning to be the sick man of Europe everyone with the ability and sense is leaving, same thing happened in the construction industry after the tories did away with apprenticeship schemes when the inevitable shortage of brickies, plumbers, sparks happened the UK brought in loads of cheap EU workers, So… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Buy more locally sourced foods and you will reduce the problem although it won’t go away. The amount of stuff ( not just foods) being shuttled back and fore is of itself alarming. People should take a close look at the faddy imported foods they consume and ask the really searching question – do I need this ? The dominance of supermarkets has made the situation worse so we should all try to wean ourselves off the acute dependency on them. As for Ms Griffiths it’s a bit rich that this comment comes from her as most of the “initiatives”… Read more »

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

It’s not just food stuff that is moved around the planet unnecessarily, there are lots of things that should be made/grown in Wales, The Welsh government appear to lack the balls to do what is needed, This report shows it’s not just our government that has a problem though, it’s capitalism in general. https://www.pacificenvironment.org/reports/shady-ships/

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Nation Cymru should take a real close look at this rewilding lark?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

If it was just a “lark” I would not be concerned. However there is a concerted campaign to change the face of our countryside, reduce our capacity to be more self sufficient, less dependent on external supplies. Mass reforestation will create stacks of leisure capacity if anyone will be able to pay the price for access but will only generate wealth for the corporate and private owners most likely outside Wales. Rewilding of large tracts of Wales will leave very little for the rest of us. There again maybe they intend herding us all into urban settings so we can… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Once again ideologically driven Westminster polices are hurting Wales. Why are we suffering due to idiotic deluded fantasies? Hopefully food shortages will make the people of Wales start to think – can we do better on our own !??

Sian
Sian
1 month ago

Skills is devolved so surely the Welsh Government through Working Wales should be encouraging and promoting free training for HGV licences. The issue around poor pay and working conditions is a huge problem, time for HGV drivers to join a union and work collectively to improve these. With demand for HGV drivers so high they are currently in a great place to negotiate. Agree with the point around local food production & distribution.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Sian

The TGWU used to do the job of representing Drivers and many other skilled and semi skilled jobs. However the Unions morphed into bigger units by mergers and the union bosses became more interested in political influence rather than dealing with the nuts and bolts of terms and conditions. They seem to enjoy being part of a corporatist drift rather than deal with the more difficult challenges of protecting and promoting member interests.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.