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In profile: Mags Simpson, Head of Policy Engagement, Logistics UK


Mags Simpson joined Logistics UK (then FTA) in 2007 as a Business Development Manager, having previously worked for various FMCG companies including: Nestle, Kellogg’s and Bic.

Since joining Logistics UK she has undertaken various roles, including Strategic Business Manager, Country Manager for Scotland and most recently Head of Policy for Scotland and the North.

In January 2021, Simpson was promoted to Head of Policy Engagement, leading the team responsible for the delivery of policy engagement across the UK. Her team represents Logistics UK’s members’ interests to outside audiences such as devolved government, combined authorities, local councils (both civil servants and politicians), as well as public audiences.

Here she answers questions on the skills shortages in logistics, the effect of the pandemic on the sector and the urgent need for the industry to transition to a net zero economy.

How much of a problem is the driver shortage and what is Logistics UK doing to tackle it?  

96% of UK logistics businesses are now reporting problems recruiting HGV drivers, according to the results from Logistics UK’s September 2021 Performance Tracker, and this is having far-reaching impacts on UK supply chains. Logistics UK is working closely with our members, government and other stakeholders to resolve the issue. 

How much of a problem is the skills shortage in the logistics industry more generally?

The logistics industry is suffering from skills shortages that go beyond HGV drivers; businesses are also facing challenges recruiting for vital roles such as warehouse staff, van drivers, fitters, mechanics, technicians, forklift drivers and transport managers. And these shortages are worsening, with more than 13% of businesses now reporting severe to very severe problems recruiting warehouse staff – compared to September 2020, when zero respondents reported facing recruitment challenges of that scale. 24.5% of respondents also report severe or very severe problems recruiting van drivers; once again, zero respondents reported facing such severe difficulties in September 2020. 

How hard has the pandemic hit the haulage industry?  

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the logistics industry both financially and operationally, with 76% of logistics businesses reporting a downturn in business in the initial phases of lockdown, according to the Logistics UK survey. However, logistics businesses overcame all these obstacles to keep the nation stocked with all the goods it needs and is starting to recover as the economy opens up again. 

How important is electrification of the UK’s transport fleet?  

Electrification of the UK’s road transport fleet is vital for the UK to be able to transition effectively to a net zero economy. But while the market for electric vans is now well established, the government must ensure that supporting infrastructure, including charge points, are readily available across the UK and the government finds a fair and equitable way for businesses to fund the necessary power upgrades to their sites.  

The picture for HGVs is more uncertain; for lighter HGVs that travel shorter distances, battery electric may be suitable. For larger, long-haul vehicles and those that carry heavy loads, the solutions are yet to be determined, with battery electric, electric road systems, and hydrogen all being explored. 

What is Logistics UK’s current position on Fuel Duty – too high or about right?  

Maintaining the current freeze on Fuel Duty is absolutely vital. As the logistics industry recovers from the impact of the pandemic, and with the threat of price inflation on the horizon, every penny counts for our sector, which traditionally runs on extremely narrow margins. This freeze also helps businesses make the switch to alternatively fuelled vehicles more smoothly, by allowing them to allocate more funds to the vehicle replacement cycle, and not on fuel duty rises. After the freeze in the Autumn Budget, we are renewing our calls for government to make the duty freeze permanent, to provide financial certainty for businesses as they plan for decarbonisation. 

*www.logistics.org.uk/campaigns

Published On: 04/11/2021 16:00:45

 



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