With 51 days to go until Christmas there has been a warning shop shelves could be empty over the festive period because of a shortage of lorry drivers.
The Road Haulage Association said the shortfall, estimated to be between 45,000 to 50,000 drivers, is “grave and presents a real threat to Christmas and economic growth”.
Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive, said: “The situation is getting worse. Thousands of older drivers are leaving the industry and younger people can’t afford the £3,000 it costs to get a truck licence.
“The government could help but won’t. They should support a truck driving apprenticeship but are refusing to do so; even though they are forcing the larger trucking firms to pay the new apprenticeship levy. As far as the RHA is concerned, that amounts to little more than just a tax on payroll.”
Some 85 per cent of everything bought in the UK is carried by a truck at some stage in the supply chain, the organisation said.
Burnett added: “Our industry is the life blood of our economy. The government can and must do more to help with this driver shortage crisis. Its failure to do so is now posing a real threat to the UK’s economic recovery.”
A logistics apprenticeship has also been put forward by the Freight Transport Association to the Transport Select Committee, which is looking at workforce planning in the haulage sector.
“The government needs to take urgent action to help the logistics industry tackle the driver shortage and attract younger people. Effective logistics are vital to the UK economy and it is vital that these issues are addressed before we reach crisis point,” said FTA head of national and regional policy Christopher Snelling.
A survey in July by Comensura said the lack of candidates could bring the logistics sector to a “standstill”.
In September a conference heard “abysmal” facilities for drivers was one of the key factors behind the staff shortage.