Drivers report being asked to be self-employed, even when working predominantly for one distributor – something that the new IR35 tax regulations (for off-payroll working) seek to stop. The RHA thinks IR35 changes are the reason behind half of all driver exits from the industry.
There are other good reasons, too. The UK has terrible provision of rest areas, catering, toilets and showers compared with Europe. Drivers here face paying £25 per night out of their own pocket to park in a service area and eat unhealthy, expensive food.
Previously, the slack was taken up by Eastern Europeans prepared to take lower pay and live out of their cabs. It’s no wonder that distributors would like that tap turned back on.
The factors, then, are myriad. The pandemic, licensing, Brexit, the way the shortage was reported and the resulting panic buying all have a role.
It will suit corporations and organisations if we mock matey queuing for fuel he doesn’t need because he’s an idiot. Fine, he deserves it. But mocking individuals takes the focus away from the root causes. For years, those who keep us fed and fuelled have deserved better.