Shortage of lorry drivers intensifies materials crisis

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In a joint statement, John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association have warned that a shortage of lorry drivers is escalating the materials crisis

The latest statement reveals how growing issues in the lorry industry is impacting the ongoing construction materials shortages.

They said: “The overall product availability picture has not changed this month. Demand both in the UK and globally continues to dramatically outstrip supply and shows few signs of slowing during the seasonally busy summer months.

“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.

Timber, roof tiles and some steel products continue to be in short supply, as is bagged cement which may have been impacted by some manufacturers undertaking overdue preventative maintenance.

“Paints, sealants and chemical products, continue to be affected by raw material shortages, with paints additionally affected by a shortage of packaging, particularly metal cans.

“The situation with insulation boards has also become tighter, with PIR becoming harder to obtain and contractors actively seeking alternatives.

“Plasterboard has been subject to extended lead times with one major manufacturer indicating their products going on allocation. Some regions are also reporting delayed deliveries of bricks and blocks.”

‘Driver shortage feeds into price inflation’

They added: “Electrical products have been affected by raw material shortages, particularly steel products and semi-conductors, since Autumn 2020. These issues are now compounded by the shipping backlog in China’s Pearl River Delta, with hundreds of container ships waiting for berths to become available.

“The availability of hauliers is a particular issue raised within the group over the past months and it is clear that this is now a critical nationwide problem causing delays and impacting project programmes. The UK has lost 15,000 European drivers this year due to Brexit, and 30,000 UK driver tests due to Covid, which has exacerbated the driver shortage.

“Inevitably, all of this is feeding into price inflation, and the expectation is that high demand coupled with tight supply will sustain elevated prices throughout the year.

“As we emphasised last month, forward planning and ongoing communication throughout the supply chain is essential to assist with reliable delivery dates and to manage expectations about any shortages or allocations.

“Builders and contractors should also maintain open communications with their customers regarding lead times, possible product substitutions and early notice of potential price increases.”

1 COMMENT

  1. This is an issue that really needs to be addressed as we begin to get back to normality. You would assume that the 30K UK driver shortage should be a relatively short term issue, however the 15K heads taken out due to Brexit had not really settled before the pandemic kicked in. This is going to be a more ongoing issue that needs to be addressed, especially with material prices already soaring!

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