DEPLOYING army personnel "will not scratch the surface" of the UK's lorry driver shortage, an industry leader says.

A staffing crisis linked to Brexit and Covid is said to be the cause of gaps on supermarket shelves.

Recent reports suggested the UK Government would call in HGV specialists from the military, including the Royal Logistics Corps, to tackle the problem.

That's been denied by an official spokesperson, but Road Haulage Association (RHA) head Richard Burnett has said it wouldn't solve the crisis anyway.

The RHA says many European-born truckers left the UK at the outset of the pandemic and won't come back because of Brexit. It says that's left a shortfall of around 100,000 qualified drivers and wants Westminster to rethink its new immigration rules to allow trained workers from outwith the UK to come back on a temporary basis.

Logistics firms have upped their pay and bonus offers to aid staff recruitment and retention but Burnett says disruption is likely to increase ahead of Christmas.

READ MORE: UK 'ignoring' shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers amid Scottish supply fears

On the potential use of military personnel, he told Sky News that may only bring in 2000 drivers, saying: "This really isn't going to scratch the surface at all or give any reassurance that as things get worse during the summer, as drivers take more holidays and we've got no drivers to backfill, that this is really a resolution to the problem at all."

Burnett said improved pay deals have seen some refuse vehicle drivers switch to deliveries, meaning the logistics fix may cause further problems.

And he went on: "We really need government to wake up and realise that the only short term solution here is to address this through the Home Office shortage occupation list and with temporary visas to allow us in the short-term additional labour in while we train a UK-based workforce which is going to take at least 18 months to tackle."


A UK Government spokesperson said: "The recent pandemic has proven that the UK has a large, diverse and highly resilient food supply chain that has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

"We are working closely with the haulage industry to understand and address recent pressures. There is no suggestion of using military support at this time and no requests have been made."