The Speaker
Friday, 12 April 2024 – 13:14

Temporary measures to support food and fuel supply chains criticised

The Government has announced temporary measures to help tackle supply chain issues, including offering temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers.

A shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has caused significant disruption to supply chains recently, with supermarkets, restaurants and now petrol stations all struggling to receive deliveries at times.

This weekend, a number of petrol stations have run out of fuel while others have seen long queues due to panic buying. While there is not understood to be a fuel shortage in the UK, a shortage of drivers has meant that fuel has not been accessible for some motorists.

This weekend, the Government have announced plans to give temporary visas to 5,000 fuel tankers and food lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers, lasting up until Christmas Eve. Those that have left the industry and hold a HGV licence will also be invited back to work. 

Some have criticised the plans though, including the British Retail Consortium, who are concerned that even with the extra drivers, there may be significant disruption around the Christmas period. The Road Haulage Association said that the announcement of new measures by the Transport Secretary “barely stretches the surface”.

Concerns have also been raised that the limited three-month visas being offered may not be especially attractive to foreign workers.

The new measures by the Government come after it had previously been suggested that firms should hire more UK workers – though there are understood to be considerable backlogs for those training in many parts of the sector. 

Speaking at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference on Sunday, Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon claimed that the Government “should of done more to attract people to the industry”, describing the job roles as “vital”.

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