The Ongoing Impact Of Brexit On The UK Trucking Industry


Brexit (and COVID) has affected all parts of the logistics process. Here we take a look at the challenges and ongoing impact of Brexit on the UK trucking industry.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published in their Business Insights and Impact on the Economy report, the trucking industry has been hit hardest, as the predominant mode of moving goods in and out of the UK.

The haulage and trucking industry has had to contend with higher costs and pricing, extra administration and red tape, and more port delays and border checks. The double hit of Brexit and the pandemic has so far resulted in 9.6% of transportation and storage category businesses permanently closing their doors.

You would not be considered foolish if you thought the issues caused by Brexit would now be resolved. However, this is not the case with ONS commenting that “The proportions of businesses experiencing challenges in importing and exporting are broadly unchanged since January 2021.”

Supply Chain Disruption & Driver Shortages

One of the most significant effects of Brexit on the trucking industry is supply chain disruption caused by lengthy delays at British ports as custom checks are conducted. These delays have and continue to create challenges for the manufacturing and food industries. The result is many businesses in the trucking industry actively avoiding working with clients that produce food and drink.

The customs changes are the result of the end of free trade between the UK and the EU. Logistics companies find themselves dealing with more paperwork and having to meet stricter standards when moving livestock and restricted goods across borders. Declarations, export health certificates, and complicated duty rules all cost time and money, and many trucking firms experienced stranded drivers and loads due to having the wrong paperwork.

Driver shortages are another factor contributing to problems in the trucking industry. The shortage of drivers could not have come at a worse time, with consumer demand up by 120%, as e-commerce thrives due to the pandemic.

The scale of the driver shortage issue is quite startling, with the Road Haulage Association (RHA) putting the deficit at 60,000 drivers. Figures from other sources put the number closer to 90,000. While there have not been enough truck drivers in the industry for a long time, Brexit exacerbated the problem.

HGV driving is not classed as a skilled occupation under the UK’s new immigration system, making many EU citizens in the UK with this occupation not eligible to remain. 60,000 EU citizens were living and working in the trucking industry in the UK, many of whom returned home as a result of the changes brought about by Brexit.

Clearly, there are opportunities for UK residents to start a career in truck driving. However, COVID once again made such a move difficult, if not impossible. Restrictions meant that 30,000 fewer HGV driving tests took place last year in the UK.

All of these supply chain issues have resulted in haulage firms raising their transportation fees. According to research from Haulage Exchange, almost three-quarters of firms working in the trucking industry have already increased prices, with the remainder expecting to do so in the near future.

An EU Based Business Move

Many small and medium-sized businesses were unprepared for the challenges Brexit caused, with many temporarily or permanently halting the sales of goods and materials into the EU.

The impact is so significant that more than half of all UK haulage firms have considered moving their operations to the EU. The study further highlighted that more than half of those surveyed had already moved at least some parts of their operations to the European Union.

If your trucking firm is expanding its fleet to capitalise on a rising demand, and increasingly extremely long lead times from main dealers Mac’s can help. We have a range of chassis in stock or already in build that we can design and build to your exact requirements. For more information on how we can help please contact our expert rental or sales team on 01422 311 999.

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