Posted: Thu 16th Sep 2021

Updated: Thu 16th Sep

Deeside based Iceland cancelling 250 store deliveries a week over lorry driver shortage

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

With the number of UK job vacancies at a record high, some industries are reporting difficulties in recruiting new staff.

A lack of EU applicants is contributing to recruitment challenges, particularly in transport and storage.

The managing director of Deeside based Iceland Food has said the supermarket chain is being forced to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it is caught up in a national shortage of lorry drivers.

He said Iceland has vacancies for 100 drivers, Richard Walker said: “Nationwide, the UK is currently short of at least 100,000 HGV drivers – the truckers we all rely on to keep us supplied with our food and other daily needs.”

He said: “This is due to a combination of factors, including our historic failure to value this essential work correctly, but the largest single challenge is this: while everyone else can clearly see that we have a massive shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, the (UK) Government refuses to acknowledge the problem and classify them as ‘skilled workers’ for immigration purposes.”

“Ballet dancers, orchestral musicians and artists, yes: the Westminster bubble deems these jobs as essential and they are on the exempt list. Truck drivers: no.” Walker said.

“I’m a big fan of culture myself, but I can’t help feeling that getting food on our tables really ought to take priority here.”

“At Iceland, we have 1,000 stores supplied by six big distribution depots.”

He added: “We currently have 100 fewer drivers than we need. We’ve reduced the frequency of our scheduled deliveries to stores by 15%, but are still having to cancel 250 store deliveries a week.”

“For small stores like ours, with limited back-up stocks, a missed delivery quickly results in gaps on the shelves.”

Walker said that unless government acts now, the UK will see big gaps on supermarket shelves in the run-up to Christmas.

While the shortage of drivers is grabbing headlines, it’s hospitality businesses that are more than twice as likely as other industries to be experiencing challenges in filling vacancies compared with normal expectations for this time of year.

According to the Office of National Statistics, between 23 August and 5 September 2021, 30% of hospitality businesses said that vacancies were more difficult to fill than normal.

This compares with 13% across all industries (up from 9% in early August).

Vacancy challenges are more common for larger businesses. Exclud›ing those with fewer than 10 employees, 41% of businesses across all industries were struggling to fill vacancies in late August, up from 32% earlier in the month.

These difficulties coincide with a very busy time for recruitment, according to the latest labour market data, with hospitality among several industries posting record numbers of vacancies in June to August 2021.

Aside from hospitality (30%), the water (27%) and health (23%) industries were most likely to be finding it more difficult than normal to recruit staff in late August.

In the transport and storage sector, 15% of businesses were struggling to fill jobs.

This may partly reflect reports of a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

However, despite being mainly employed in transport and storage, HGV drivers only account for around 1 in 10 jobs in the industry as a whole.

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