A shortage of hauliers due to the UK’s departure from the EU and Covid testing rules is becoming a “critical nationwide problem” for the construction industry, which is already battling disrupted supply chains.
Government advisory body the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) today said that a lack of drivers was now causing construction delays and pushing prices up.
It said that the UK had lost 15,000 European drivers due to Brexit, while as many as 30,000 drivers had seen their work disrupted due to Covid requirements like testing.
Due to leaving the bloc, trade between the EU and UK has been hit by a swathe of new customs rules, meaning drivers face many more checks.
The CLC said that it was supporting the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in its talks with the Department for Transport (DfT) over the issue.
The warning came as the body said that the UK’s construction supply chains were now “under enormous pressure”.
UK construction activity has soared this year, with work on commercial projects, housebuilding, work and civil engineering projects all growing at its fastest rate in years since the lifting of restrictions.
But that has heaped pressure on the industry due to limited supply of certain materials.
“In the UK, record sales of building materials coupled with strong pre-orders and full pipelines of work are all putting enormous pressure on the supply chain which, in some sectors, has not fully recovered from the impact of Covid”, it said in a statement.
“This suggests the unprecedented challenges around a number of key product areas, particularly imported products and materials, will likely persist into the second half of 2021.”
It once again reiterated the need for a transparent allocation system to prevent smaller contractors being unable to get the building supplies they need.
In addition, it said that a shipping backlog in China’s Pearl River Delta, which has delayed hundreds of container ships carrying steel and semi-conductors, could cause worse supply disruption that the Suez Canal incident earlier this year.