The logistics industry will deliver Christmas on time this year despite facing severe staff shortages, according to FTA, the voice of the UK logistics sector. But with a growing shortfall of 59,000 HGV drivers, the issue will be significantly worse for Christmas 2020 unless the government amends its post-Brexit immigration policy to retain existing EU workers and welcome new ones after the UK leaves the EU.

Sally Gilson, FTA’s Head of Skills Campaigns, comments: “With UK Christmas present spending now topping £19 billion a year, and 42% of that spent online, the pressure on logistics businesses to deliver a flawless Christmas for consumers and businesses alike is increasing every year. At the same time, the availability of HGV drivers to deliver these gifts and other vital commodities has declined by 16,000 year-on-year despite soaring demand for their services. While the industry is resilient and flexible – logistics businesses will do everything possible to keep goods moving across the UK – with the skills shortage worsening each year, delivering Christmas on time will become increasingly difficult after the UK’s departure from the EU, unless the government provides the support industry needs.

“The logistics sector is heavily reliant on EU workers: they currently constitute 13% of the sector’s entire workforce. But the government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration policy fails to take into account what these employees bring to industry and, instead, is based around arbitrary academic levels and minimum salary requirements, not what the UK economy needs to remain functional. FTA is urging the government to amend its future immigration policy to allow these workers continued access post-Brexit; the government must prioritise the recruitment and retention of HGV drivers alongside other logistics staff, to future-proof Christmas for years to come.”

The number of EU nationals moving to the UK for work is now more than 50% lower than its peak period between June 2015 – June 2016.

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.