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Driver Shortage & Petrol Supply Crisis

Extensive interviews in national media

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We're being widely recognised as an authority on the driver shortage, following the release of our report "The Answer to the UK's HGV Driver Shortage Crisis".

This has resulted in a great deal of publicity over the driver shortage and the nationwide panic over fuel and our CEO, Kieran Smith has been interviewed extensively on national TV, radio and press including a feature on the Jeremy Vine special: Panic at the Pumps.

Exerpts from the programme special "Panic at the Pumps" with Jeremy Vine...

With the current climate it is understandable to see why people wouldn’t want the job.

"Lorry driving is an arduous task; it has been like that for years and you could argue it has gotten progressively worse over the last ten years."

 You don’t blame the government for the issues within the sector?

"No, it is an industry symptom; it is an enormously fragmented haulage market which is highly competitive." 

Do you blame Brexit?

No, in relation to the crisis it is primarily the effect of COVID. Brexit was a contributing factor, along with the factor of IR35. Initially we saw a flight of European nationals due to COVID go to stay with their families. A number of them returned, but a net of 12,500 have left over the period. We have seen numerous ups and downs during the pandemic.

Kieran was also interviewed by Sarah-Jane Mee on Sky News last week:   

Sky News Interview 

Where have all the HGV drivers gone? 

"There has been a loss of drivers since the beginning of the pandemic. A Driver Require founded a Think Tank which estimated a loss of 20-30,000 drivers due to the pandemic. 

Over 40,000 further drivers over [age] 45 left in the first quarter of this year – now an estimated 70,000. This is top end of the scale, but a very large number to leave a workforce which was originally 300,000. Lockdown restrictions easing has resulted in a large gap between supply and demand."

Why have there been so many employee departures? 

It is a combination of various reasons; more than 12,500 EU nationals net have left, and some returned. So, therefore 1000 EU nationals have returned to Europe. There has been a lack of driving tests, therefore a limited number of entrants. Primarily COVID has been the catalyst for departure in the older segment. And lower demand at the beginning of this year, meant low level of requirement for drivers, combined with the vaccination programs being brought down to their age range which it hadn’t at that point as well as wages being suppressed.

What is the process to recruit drivers? The Transport Secretary has said there needs to be a drive to recruit women to be HGV drivers, and those from ethnic minorities – how are you trying to achieve this?

For agencies it is a competition for the same resource, the primary mechanism is improving their pay rates. As we’ve seen with the fuel crisis, this ultimately moves problems around the sector as different parts of that sector raise the pay rates. 

There have been concerted efforts to encourage women to join the HGV driver workforce with some great initiatives currently taking place. One of the problems for the shortage is due to not particularly brilliant working conditions, in terms of roadside parking facilities, safe parking especially at night as well as affordable parking. It would be inappropriate to ask a woman to work in these environments when the standard British male doesn’t want to do so. There will be a time and place to bring women into the workforce, but I think there is work to do to improve conditions before this is achieved. 

What does it take to drive a tanker? There will be visas for HGV drivers, but they won’t be qualified to drive a fuel tanker.

The reality of it is there isn’t so much a shortage of fuel tanker drivers. The general belief is that due to the increase in wages in other sectors i.e. supermarket, grocery, has attracted some of those fuel tanker drivers who were previously being paid higher wages due to the danger the job itself carried.


The events over the past few days have brought the nation's attention once again to the HGV Driver Shortage Crisis. Since last week, many areas of the UK have experienced the effects of the panic-buying of fuel which has led a series of measures being implemented by the UK Government.

Our CEO, Kieran Smith who set up an industry Think Tank on this issue has been approached by several national radio and TV stations over the past few days to provide insight and perspective on the driver shortage situation.

Interviews the media.. 

BBC World At One with Jonny Dymond (Friday 24 September)

BBC Five Live Sunday Breakfast with Eleanor Oldroyd and Steffan Powell (Sunday 26 September)

BBC London with Vanessa Feltz (Monday 27 September) 

BBC Five Live Breakfast with Nicky Campbell (Thursday 7 October)

To listen to the full interviews, please contact us at

Read more about our interviews in the newspapers:

The Financial Times

The Evening Standard 

The Grocer


Wednesday 6th October 2021

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