True statistics behind HGV driver shortages – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: David Blackburn, Ilkley.

The Army were recently called up to ease the fuel distribution crisis.

WHAT has really caused some of the recent problems with the undoubted shortage of HGV drivers?

I have met so many people who put some of the responsibility on the media, including TV, radio, social media and, yes, the printed media, because of the lack of accurate facts.

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When the fuel delivery issue first arose, and queues started, did we get facts on how many fuel stations had shortages and how many fuel stations there are in the country to put the issue into context?

The Army were recently called up to ease the fuel distribution crisis.

No, we didn’t. Just a reporter filming outside what could have been one of only a handful of stations.

The most banded statistic, and quite a scary one, we got was that this was because of the shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers, a figure still oft quoted.

In this case, it was easy because the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less, which specialises in analysing statistics used in the media, did a feature on this on September 1.

This statistic came from the Road Haulage Association and is made up of its guesstimate of a 60,000 shortfall in 2019 (50,000 in 2015), which begs the question of why the industry did nothing to train more drivers.

It was not difficult to forecast further shortages after the 2016 vote on Brexit. Then comes the difference in EU drivers pre-Brexit (44,000) and after (25,000), a loss of 19,000 based on government population surveys.

Finally, because of Covid taking over a year, a proportion of drivers would have retired and new ones qualified, but 25,000 tests did not take place, so this figure was added in. So we have 60 +19 + 25 = 104,000, much of which is based on some very weak premises.

Lastly the statistic also not seen in the media is that there are apparently 600,000 HGV drivers in total. Even this is unreliable as it is based on numbers of drivers qualified (not necessarily still driving).

It is often said that statistics can be used to prove anything, but it’s time the media started being much more thorough in not using unsubstantiated statistics to emphasise a story.

From: Alan Slomson, Leeds.

YOU report Boris Johnson as saying that tax rises will drive “levelling up”.

Unfortunately, as usual, there is little connection between what he says and what he does.

The recent decision to increase National Insurance payments instead of income tax rises for the better-off puts a burden on all workers, but leaves many well-off people untouched.

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