Bins left uncollected after HGV driver shortage hits councils

·2-min read

Bin collections have been delayed in at least 18 council areas due to a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.

Local authorities are thought to be struggling, with some having written to the home secretary for help.

Basildon Council has told residents in Laindon, Essex, that their "pink sack" recycling waste should be kept inside as "operational issues" have prevented collection "until further notice".

A shortage of around 100,000 drivers has been caused by a string of issues, including labour shortages, the pandemic and new immigration rules.

Manchester City Council apologised to residents after some bins were left uncollected on Tuesday, and Derby City Council has also spoken of a shortage of drivers.

Three local authorities in Devon have written to Home Secretary Priti Patel to share their concerns about the "deficit" of staff in waste collection across the UK.

Councillors Steve Darling, David Worden and Alistair Dewhirst said: "At the time of writing, North Devon Council are attempting to fill seven vacancies, Torbay Council eight vacancies, and Teignbridge Council 10 vacancies.

"This equates to approximately 20% of the HGV workforce in driver vacancies and it is proving very challenging to fill this resourcing gap given the dynamics of this labour market."

The letter stated that local authorities are creating academies to train HGV drivers as well as aiming to retain staff by offering extra pay.

It also called for drivers to be given a two-year exemption from the points-based immigration system.

Other factors leading to the shortage of drivers include drivers leaving the country during the pandemic and not returning, as well as the end of free movement of labour following Brexit.

COVID has also led to testing by the DVLA to grind to a standstill on occasion - although the government is working to streamline the process.

Some companies are offering four-figure signing bonuses to encourage new drivers to join.

Business leaders were left frustrated recently when the government refused to grant temporary visas to allow drivers to enter the UK.

And there are warnings that price rises for customers are "inevitable" due to the shortage.

In a statement, waste management company Biffa said the shortage was "widely spread" across the sector but it was working to recruit drivers.

FCC Environment, another waste company, said: "In the short-term in some areas, working in close agreement with our local authority partners, we have prioritised waste and recycling collections - enabling these to continue by temporarily suspending other services, such as garden waste collections, to allow us to reallocate drivers."

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A Local Government Association spokesperson said: "While most councils have been able to keep services running, some are having to reduce services such as green waste collection.

"These issues are partly due to the problems with a shortage of HGV drivers, which are affecting other parts of the economy as well."

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