Haulage firm insolvencies hit a 17-month high in June as the loss of cross-border trade and a lack of drivers took their toll on the industry.

According to figures from accountancy firm Mazars, 31 UK haulage firms went under in June, the highest in a single month since January 2019.

The fall in shipments between the UK and EU and between Great Britain and Northern Ireland since Brexit has hit revenues of those that relied on cross-border trade. Hauliers have suffered as fewer shipments have been made across borders due to the additional red tape and costs of doing business with the EU. 

Driver shortages are another key factor in the industry’s problems. Covid has led to a major backlog of tests for new drivers - 28,000 as of May this year - while the recent ‘pingdemic’ has caused many drivers to self-isolate.

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The issue has been exacerbated by Brexit, with many drivers from EU countries returning home – a figure which research suggests could be as high as 15,000.

Logistics companies must also grapple with the fact that HGV drivers do not count as ‘skilled’ workers under the Government’s points-based immigration system, making it practically impossible to recruit from abroad.

“Brexit has hit the logistics industry very hard," Mazars partner Rebecca Dacre said. "Combined with the effects of the pandemic, we’re starting to see an acceleration in haulage companies going out of business.

“Even companies that have escaped the worst effects of Brexit on the industry are struggling to find the drivers they need. The Government should consider putting in place measures to ease the driver shortage in the short term, perhaps by creating a special visa category for HGV drivers, otherwise we will see more hauliers go out of business and difficulties in the supply chain will impact everyone.”

UK furlough total falls to 1.6 million in July

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A total of 1.6 million people in the UK remained furloughed at the end of July, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), down from almost two million a month earlier.

The number of workers coming back from furlough fell despite the removal of most pandemic restrictions, with apporximately 340,000 coming off the job protection scheme during July, down from 590,000 in June.

The 1.6 million jobs furloughed at the end of July compares to a peak of 5.1 million in January during the depths of the winter lockdown. The furlough scheme is due to expire at the end of this month.

"The number of people on furlough in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, as well as accommodation and food services have seen particularly large reductions in the number of jobs on furlough over the course of the summer," HMRC said.

Former reservoir with dodecahedral roof for sale in East Lothian

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A one-time reservoir in East Lothian has been put up for sale with a price-tag of offers over £450,000.

The Heugh Reservoir was a cold water storage facility that served North Berwick until it was decommissioned by Scottish Water in 2004.

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