HGV driver shortage

The HGV driver shortage is being fuelled by IR35, as well as the Covid and Brexit, according to a leading contractor news site.

Contractor Weekly is reporting that experts have flagged IR35 as an important factor in the driver crisis.

Driver Shortage

The HGV driver shortage has led to reduced availability of petrol and stock in shops, and fears of shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

Among the responses from the UK Government has been the decision to allow temporary visas for 5,000 HGV drivers to work in the UK in the coming weeks.

IR35 Impact

Contractor Weekly says that changes to the off-payroll working rules, which came into effect in April, are being highlighted as one of the three issues causing the HGV driver shortage. The others are post-Brexit regulation and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The website reports on a survey by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which says there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified HGV drivers in the UK. The figure includes drivers from the EU who had previously been living and working in the UK.

HGV Driver ‘Chaos’

The Contractor Weekly article goes on to say that the ‘chaos’ left in the wake of IR35 reform in the private sector has added to the HGV crisis.

The introduction of IR35 reform in April 2021 shifted responsibility for determining a contractor’s tax status to the end client. 

This led to many businesses placing all contractors inside IR35 or on the payroll, which experts say has contributed to the current crisis.

High Profile

Contractor Weekly quotes Qdos CEO Seb Maley as saying: ‘This is the first real high-profile example of what not to do when it comes to managing IR35 reform, along with its wide-reaching economic impact.

‘Far too many businesses that once engaged contract HGV drivers as self-employed workers have handed them an ultimatum – work on the payroll or have your contract cancelled. This has led to an exodus of drivers.’

In the article Maley urges these businesses to rethink ‘needlessly risk averse IR35 decisions’, saying they have a better chance of retaining the services of HGV drivers if they manage IR35 reform fairly.

He tells Contractor Weekly: ‘The HGV crisis won’t be solved on IR35 alone, but through sound management, businesses could definitely alleviate the issues they’re experiencing and in turn, the problems the UK is facing as a result of this shortage.’

Forgotten Factor

In the same article IPSE director of policy Andy Chamberlain echoes these views.

He tells Contractor Weekly: ‘The changes to IR35 are the forgotten factor driving the HGV crisis. The IR35 changes have already had numerous unintended consequences, from freelancers losing work left, right and centre, to many being forced into unregulated – and too often unscrupulous – umbrella companies. Now we can add fuel and food shortages to the list.

‘IR35 is evidently not the only factor involved, but as research from the Road Haulage Association has shown, it is a key factor for more than half of drivers who are leaving the industry.’

Read On

There are currently more than 3,000 driving jobs advertised on our Job Board out of 17,000-plus listed.

Read the full article on the Contractor Weekly website.