In June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. It was a ground-breaking decision, and even though the Leave vote only won by a hair’s breadth, the cogs already started turning to remove Britain from the European Union. But so far, politicians still haven’t been able to come to a decision on what Brexit will actually look like. With just 5 months to go until Brexit comes into effect, the time is ticking. But while the details might not have been hammered out, there are some industries that are already feeling the strain of Brexit and others for whom the damage has already been done and it’s too late to go back. Unfortunately, the haulage industry falls into that last category.
One of the most damaging things that have come out of Brexit for the business sector is the uncertainty. No one is sure what the future will look like any more, both in a few months and in a few years. This is bad news for businesses. But for the haulage industry, it’s causing a lot of frustration. Without any idea of what would be included in a Brexit deal, haulage firms are unable to give accurate quotes for any time past March or even answer some basic questions about their service in the future. Brexit will change so much in the world of haulage, from trade routes and port waiting times to taxes and customs fees, there is no way for drivers to know how their businesses will be affected.
Another frustration for haulage drivers is the government’s apparent lack of concern for future trading. When Brexit was first announced, the FTA (Freight Transport Association) came forward to support Brexit campaigners in creating a trade deal. They published a paper full of suggestions called ‘Keep Britain Trading’, which included eight demands from the haulage association. You can read the paper in full here. But recently, James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the FTA, commented that:
“Of the eight demands in the FTA’s list of essentials to ‘Keep Britain Trading’… not a single one has been progressed.”
That’s right – not a single one of the suggestions and solutions given by haulage professionals has been taken into account by Brexit ministers. And with the deadline so close, there is very little chance that the suggestions could be actioned now. This has led experts like Hookham to suggest that when Brexit does happen, there is no guarantee that UK haulage firms will be able to continue employing drivers from other EU states. That adds up to around 43,000 drivers!
This is the biggest concern for the haulage industry. There has already been a significant period of driver shortage going back a number of years, and it’s showing no signs of changing. At last, count, while 20,000 new drivers are entering the industry each year, there is still a skilled driver shortage of around 50,000 across the UK. Despite repeated efforts to rally new drivers into the industry, HGV drivers are still hard to find, and the industry is under significant strain. If the result of Brexit is losing another 43,000 skilled drivers then the shortage will worsen and Britain’s trade and business infrastructure could be in danger of collapse.
Of course, a lot of other industries are saying the same thing. Brexit is causing uncertainty across the board, and there are many other issues caused by the uncertainty. But one this Brexit is doing is exposing the flaws in our infrastructure that would cause problems without EU membership. For the haulage industry, these few issues are only the beginning. The port of Dover (the main trading port) has stated that the extra 2-minute delay the post-Brexit checks would take could lead to 17 miles of tailbacks. It would also mean thousands of qualified drivers having to turn away work, or re-do their qualifications since the EU will no longer recognise UK drivers licenses.
At The HGV Training Centre, we have been keeping a very close eye on the economic climate, and that includes Brexit. Our experts have been working to keep you up to date on the implications of Brexit on the industry, as well as methods of coping with it. Our hope is that the FTA will be able to work closely with the Brexit teams and keep Britain trading in a healthy economic climate. If you would like to know more about how Brexit might impact the haulage industry, or find out more about becoming an HGV driver yourself, just get in touch with us today.
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