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More than half of UK hauliers considering moving operations to the EU

More than half (56%) of UK hauliers are considering moving their operations to the EU, as the sector reaches breaking point.

A post-Brexit study reveals border delays, increased administration and driver shortages as major challenges at the same time as haulage demand has surged by up to 120% in 2021.

The perfect storm of red tape, driver shortages and other Brexit issues threaten retail, food, farming and gardening industries as a result.

The 2021 Post-Brexit Hauliers Survey – conducted by specialist returns loads platform Haulage Exchange – surveyed business leaders at 16 of the UK’s top haulage companies operating in the UK and Europe.

Almost a third (31%) say they are having to avoid working with the food and drinks industry, due to increased checks and admin on certain products. Other sectors impacted include livestock farming (25%), agricultural farming (25%), gardening supplies (19%) and retail (13%).

The situation is being exacerbated by huge spikes in UK demand for haulage, at a time when there’s a skilled driver deficit of up to 100,000 drivers due to Brexit, Covid-19 and other factors. In the three months from March to May 2021, the uplift in demand for haulage was more than twice what it was for the same period in 2019. In April 2021 alone, demand was 120% stronger than in April 2019.

The study reveals the increased challenges for haulage companies in the UK. Six months on from the Brexit transition, 94% of UK haulage companies state they have been negatively impacted and are seeing greater Brexit aftershocks than they anticipated.

The number of UK haulage companies that have lost business because of Brexit regulation changes has risen to 69%. In December 2020, prior to the Brexit deadline, this stood at 21%.

Inevitably, hauliers are experiencing longer waits at the border since Brexit: 81% say they have been affected. To counteract this, some firms are exploring alternative routes into the EU, with these longer journeys impacting half of all hauliers surveyed. There is also more admin to complete before crossing the border, with 69% of companies experiencing this issue.

Some 56% of hauliers say business has been affected by fewer exports going to the EU, while half say their operations have been impacted by fewer imports coming in.

With full border checks due to come into force on 1 January 2022, nearly 7 in 10 UK haulage companies believe they will be negatively impacted.

Lyall Cresswell, founder and CEO at Haulage Exchange, said: “We know more changes are coming, but this is an industry used to adapting and it has proved extraordinarily successful in dealing with the unexpected. It’s encouraging that demand for haulage is stronger than ever, and how well companies have adapted to big changes shows the resilience of our industry. Companies can use that demand to overcome the challenges ahead. The issues identified in our survey need to be addressed quickly and decisively. If that happens, I’m confident that the industry will continue to thrive.”