Driver shortages impact on Bin Collections

Briefing Note – Impact of HGV driver shortage and COVID-19 on waste collections in south Buckinghamshire


Dear Sir or Madam,

This briefing note is to update on the subject of waste collections in the south of Buckinghamshire.


Media coverage continues to highlight the national shortage of skilled Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers, across a multitude of sectors, including the waste industry. It is estimated that there is a current shortage of more than 100,000 HGV licensed drivers across all sectors.

Buckinghamshire Council is feeling its impact, across our waste and street cleansing services. Despite concerted efforts to recruit into existing vacancies, staffing levels are below the required levels. Recruitment markets are becoming more competitive, as businesses compete to attract qualified workers.

In the south, where the impact is most keenly felt, our contractors have taken proactive measures, introducing attractive retention bonuses for staff. Incentivised recruitment packages are also being offered to attract candidates to the vacancies. Examples include:

· Attractive driver retention bonus

· Attractive staff bonus for ‘Recommend a Friend’ incentive

· Increased hourly rate of pay for HGV drivers

· Multi-channel recruitment drive across the business

· Fast-track training for internal staff to become qualified HGV drivers

· Continued use of agency to support front line services

Covid-19 remains a threat to the current work force. This is proving to be well managed and contained by our contractors in the south and teams in the north of Buckinghamshire.

Service Implications

Service recovery plans remain in place during this period. Both contractors have acted to minimise service disruption residents experience. Measures have included –

· Collection crews absorbing additional work, with planned work split between teams

· Delays to some scheduled collections, with collections taking place a day or two later

· Working weeks have been extended as weekend working has become necessary to complete planned work, ahead of the start of the next working week

· The council is exploring other options designed to minimise service disruption for residents

Daily updates are posted on the council’s web pages, informing residents of where delays are expected. Residents are encouraged to leave containers presented, ready for collection.

This situation is not unique to Buckinghamshire. A large number of local authorities (some neighbouring), have taken such measures as to suspend specific waste collection activity and are working to revised collection schedules.

Reporting a missed collection

It is important that residents are signposted to the relevant web page, firstly to check the daily updates for any service disruption and to report any missed collection if it hasn’t already been logged.

Rounds that the crews have been unable to complete are published online at the end of each day:

If delays are expected, residents will not be able to report a missed collection, as the collection will have already been scheduled.

If there is an individual missed bin rather than a missed street, residents are encouraged to report it either using the relevant link below:

Or by contacting the Customer Services Team:

Chiltern or Wycombe area Waste Line – 01494 586550

South Bucks area Waste Line – 01895 837333 or 01895 837200

What happens next?

The Southern Waste Team is working closely with both contractors to minimise service disruption caused by the driver shortage. Several options are being considered to minimise disruption residents are currently experiencing. We’ll share more information soon to clarify what steps are being taken.

The ongoing recruitment drive is crucial and our contractors are leading on this. We are conscious that this will take time to resolve, taking into account the competitive market and protracted nature of appointing into vacancies.

We will continue to regularly update stakeholders - managing expectations with accurate and timely information will minimise customer contact for our stretched teams. Signposting our residents to the council web pages, listed above, is essential.

Both contractors are committed to react in a timely manner to any reported service failures, allowing for prompt rectification, as resources allow.

I’d like to thank you, for your continued understanding and patience, during this uniquely challenging period.

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