Shortages of lorry drivers that have beset supply chains are primarily the result of a lack of EU workers due to Covid and Brexit, according to official statistics.
Research from theOffice for National Statistics (ONS) has laid bare the impact of workers heading back home since the onset of the Covid crisis, with stricter immigration disincentivising them to come back.
One in four businesses are struggling to fill roles as a result of a sharp reduction in the supply of suitable applicants caused by EU workers leaving the UK, the statistics show.
This proportion rises to 46 per cent among transport and storage businesses, highlighting the acute hiring difficulties haulage firms are facing.
High migration levels have depleted labour supply for many sectors of the British economy, causing supply chain issues and shortages of products and raw materials.
Hospitality firms are experiencing the worst recruitment problems, with one in three saying vacancies are harder to fill compared to normal.
Excluding businesses with fewer than 10 employees, 41 per cent are struggling to fill vacancies, while 15 per cent of transport businesses are struggling more than usual to fill roles.
Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “The labour shortage has been tough for businesses trying to capitalise on post lockdown trade and it doesn’t show any sign of getting better in a hurry, in fact the situation only seems be getting more acute.”