Warning as number of haulage firms going out of business accelerates

Experts have warned of an acceleration in the number of haulage companies going out of business as Brexit and driver shortages bite.

HGVs on the M4 motorway near Datchet, Berkshire. The UK government announced a temporary extension to lorry drivers' hours from July 12, amid a shortage of workers. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Images

June saw 31 haulage firm insolvencies, the highest in a single month since January 2019, according to Mazars, the international audit, tax and advisory firm.

The fall in shipments between the UK and EU and between Great Britain and Northern Ireland since Brexit has seen revenues fall for some logistics businesses that relied on cross-border trade, the firm noted.

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Hauliers have also suffered amid the additional red tape and costs of doing business with the EU.

Rebecca Dacre, partner at Mazars, said: “Brexit has hit the logistics industry very hard. Combined with the effects of the pandemic, we’re starting to see an acceleration in haulage companies going out of business.

“Even companies that have escaped the worst effects of Brexit on the industry are struggling to find the drivers they need.

“The government should consider putting in place measures to ease the driver shortage in the short term, perhaps by creating a special visa category for HGV drivers, otherwise we will see more hauliers go out of business and difficulties in the supply chain will impact everyone.”

Driver shortages are a key factor in the industry’s problems. Mazars noted that the pandemic has led to a major backlog of tests for new drivers - 28,000 as of May this year - while the recent pingdemic has caused many drivers to self-isolate.

The issue has been exacerbated by Brexit, with many drivers from EU countries returning home - a figure which research suggests could be as high as 15,000.

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