Costs rise for hauliers post-Brexit

16 July 2021

More than half of UK hauliers are considering moving operations to the EU, according to a survey.

A study of haulage industry leaders by Haulage Exchange found border delays, increased admin and driver shortages were major challenges post-Brexit.

Lower levels of EU exports and imports was also impacting operations.

The study said a perfect storm of red tape, driver shortages and other Brexit issues were threatening retail, food, farming and gardening industries.

Surges in demand, more than doubling this year, were pushing hauliers to breaking point, the study said.

The vast majority (94%) said they were seeing greater aftershocks from Brexit than expected. The number of UK haulage firms losing business because of regulation changes since Brexit was 69%.

The 2021 Post-Brexit Hauliers Survey showed 56% of haulage companies have moved some operations to the EU, or would consider it in the future.

Also, 69% of haulage firms said they had already seen increased costs, with the rest expecting rises next year or in the near future.

Almost a third (31%) said they were avoiding the food and drinks sector because of increased checks and admin on some products. Other sectors impacted include livestock farming (25%), agricultural farming (25%), gardening supplies (19%) and retail (13%).

In addition, the impact of the shortage of drivers has been exacerbated by the fact that in the three months to May 2021, the uplift in demand for haulage was more than twice what it was for the same period in 2019. In April, demand was 120% higher than in 2019.

Around 56% of haulers said fewer exports were going to the EU, while 50% said fewer imports were coming in.

Increased waiting times at the border was the biggest impact cited by respondents (81%), followed by increased time spent on admin (69%), and fewer exports and imports (56% and 50% respectively).

Other challenges included longer journey times to take alternative routes, higher tariffs, changing licensing and registration requirements, with only 6% of hauliers saying they had not been impacted.

Nearly seven out of ten haulage companies said they believed they would be negatively impacted by full border checks due to come into force at the beginning of next year.

Lyall Cresswell, CEO of Haulage Exchange, said: “We know more changes are coming, but this is an industry used to adapting and it has proved extraordinarily successful in dealing with the unexpected. It’s encouraging that demand for haulage is stronger than ever, and how well companies have adapted to big changes shows the resilience of our industry.

“Companies can use that demand to overcome the challenges ahead and I’m positive about the future of the industry. The issues identified in our survey need to be addressed quickly and decisively. If that happens, I’m confident that the industry will continue to thrive.”

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