It’s been a very long time since the UK went through a period of such uncertainty and discord. But unlike previous conflicts, the reason for the unrest in the UK is clear. Yes, Brexit has caused a lot of controversy since it became a reality in June 2016. It’s been 2 years, and yet the politicians have been unable to come up with a clear vision for what Brexit will actually look like. And with just 5 months to go, it’s seeming ever more unlikely that they will. And while all of that is going on, our economy and businesses are being thrown into turmoil. Across the board, industries are suffering from the uncertainty of the thing, and in some cases, the damage from a potential Brexit has already been done, and it’s too late to avoid the disruption. And the haulage industry is one of them.
The Uncertainty Problem
One of the biggest problems Brexit has brought for many industries is uncertainty. With a lack of a formal Brexit plan, business owners are unable to predict what their business will look like in 5 months. This is especially true in haulage. With no idea of what border control will look like, how prices and customs charges will be affected and even their ability to move between EU countries, haulage companies are struggling to establish long-term plans. Unable to provide pricing past March 2019 or even answer basic questions from customers, the haulage industry is struggling to maintain a productive and profitable business model. Because leaving the EU could impact trade routes, taxes, customs fees and almost every other element of haulage, there is no way to predict how much prices and timescales will be affected.
Government Ignoring Suggestions
The most frustrating thing for representatives of the haulage industry is the government’s wilful ignorance when it comes to trading issues. Early on in the process, the FTA (Freight Transport Association) created a document titled ‘Keep Britain Trading’ (which you can read here). The document outlines 10 things Brexit ministers could do to help protect Britain’s ability to trade and included 8 demands to be included in Brexit negotiations. But James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the FTA, comments 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. This has led to outrage from the haulage industry as a whole and has caused Mr Hookham to comment that, without these things, there is no guarantee the haulage industry will be able to continue to employ the 43,000 HGV drivers in Britain who are nationals of another EU state.
It’s this last point that’s causing the most concern. The HGV industry has been suffering from a prolonged period of skills shortage and finding qualified drivers is already a challenge. Even though 20,000 new drivers join the industry every year, there is still a shortage of over 50,000 qualified drivers, and the industry is feeling the strain. If Brexit means we lose another 43,000 qualified drivers, the driver shortage will only get worse, and Britain’s trade infrastructure could be in real danger of collapse.
Of course, it’s not just the haulage industry that’s feeling the strain. Industries across the board are suffering from similar problems and uncertainty, and it’s causing many to question whether Brexit is the right thing for the country. But for the HGV industry, these 3 issues are just the beginning. Ministers have already been warned that the extra 2 minutes required to do post-Brexit checks on each HGV at Dover will cause 17-mile tailbacks and that thousands of qualified drivers will be forced to either turn down work in the EU or completely re-do their qualifications since EU countries would no longer recognise a UK driving license.
At The LGV Training Company, we aren’t politically partisan. We try to stay out of the debate one way or another. So when Brexit was announced, we, along with the rest of the haulage industry, worked to figure out the best way to make the best of the situation. The end goal is to create a deal that will keep Britain trading, and not lead to the weakening and collapse of a vital economic industry. If you have any opinions, or questions about Brexit, or if you would like to enquire about becoming an HGV driver yourself, just get in touch with us today.