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Stark warning of empty shelves at Christmas

26 October 2015

The Road Haulage Association has issued a stark warning that consumers could see empty shelves this Christmas as the chronic lack of truck drivers affecting its industry worsens.

To highlight the crisis, the Road Haulage Association will undertake intensive lobbying of MPs on Tuesday 27th October as part of its first ever National Lorry Week which runs from 26-31 October. The industry will also be holding several public events across the UK to draw attention to the problem.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: "We are short of between 45,000 and 50,000 drivers and 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. One of the aims of National Lorry Week is to highlight the issue and pile pressure on the government. What young person can find £3,000 without some help? This shortage is grave and presents a real threat to Christmas and to economic growth.”

Over 85% of everything bought in the UK is carried by a truck at some stage in the supply chain.  The road freight industry and its associated warehousing operations employ over 2.2 million people and is a vital part of the UK economy.

Richard 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 UKs economic recovery.”

Last Christmas, trucks delivered:

•       8 million real Christmas trees

•       10 million turkeys

•       25 million Christmas puddings

•       35 million bottles of wine

•       250 million pints of beer

•       And, for a nation that claims not to like them, we bought 9875 tonnes of sprouts!

•       Also, on Christmas Eve, children in the UK left out 7 million mince pies for Santa Claus!