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Driver shortage forces cost of moving home to rise as UK removals firms put up prices



The cost of moving home is on the rise as removals firms are forced to put up prices following difficulties in hiring drivers.

Some removals firms have raised prices by up to 25%, according to operators, in line with wage increases levied to retain and attract workers amid heavy competition for those with a specialist lorry licence.

Angus Elphinstone, the chief executive and founder of AnyVan, said prices across the industry had risen by 10-15% as strong demand for removals vans continued beyond a peak in June before the end of the stamp duty tax break.

He said that demand was up 200% in June and interest in moving home had not tailed off as much as expected since then. “From our experience the shortage is not just due to overwhelming demand from home movers,” he said. “We have seen that post-Brexit a number of removal teams have left the UK to go into Europe, creating a drop in the number available.”

Several operators of removals firms confirmed they had been forced to put up prices for customers by 10% to 25% and were struggling to keep up with demand because of driver shortages.

Mark Chudley of the removals firm Chudley International said he had put wages up by at least 25% in order to attract more drivers but was still only able to do about half the number of jobs he would expect at the time of year because of driver shortages.

“There is still more demand than capacity,” he said. “In August we will have less staff through holidays as well and I think it will continue for the rest of the year, although it won’t be as bad as June.”

Cicero Almeida, who runs Dumond, a removals company based in south London, said he could have done at least 30% more work if drivers had been available. He had put up wages by 25% to 30% but said the industry was struggling to compete for qualified workers.

“HGV drivers have a lot of choice where to work. They can go for deliveries or driving bin lorries or cement trucks where they don’t have to do heavy lifting,” he said.

Almeida said he had been forced to put up prices for clients as he had not only had to raise drivers’ pay but also seen inflation in the cost of cardboard boxes and packing tape because of high demand from the rise in home deliveries and difficulties in importing goods because of shipping container shortages. He said the company was also having to put more items headed overseas in storage as it was more difficult to arrange transport.

But Matt Faizey at M&G moving and storage in the Midlands said he had not been able to raise prices for clients outside of the busy June period despite having to increase drivers’ pay by about 8% this year, including bonuses.

“The pay rises are staying and that will have an impact on profits.” He said he could not put up prices as there was a lot of competition from unlicensed “man with a van” operators with smaller vehicles who were willing to take on work for a low price.