Britain's government has rejected calls from retail and logistics companies to temporarily ease post-Brexit immigration rules that they say are contributing to a shortage of truck drivers and acute supply chain disruption.
Food Businesses Supply Problems
Trade body Logistics UK said that Britain currently has a shortage of 90,000 truck drivers, and on August 22 it and the British Retail Consortium asked the government to grant temporary visas to truck drivers from the European Union.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
Since January 1, most EU citizens planning to work in Britain need visas, which are typically only available for jobs that are higher-paid than those in the logistics and hospitality sectors.
Business Ministry Statement
Britain's business ministry said that it does not expect these visa rules to change.
Government Spokesperson Statement
"We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad," a government spokesperson said.
The Times newspaper had reported earlier that the government was considering bringing forward a review of visa rules and easing post-Brexit immigration rules to help end the shortage amid mounting pressure from supermarket chains.
A review of the shortage occupation list, which gives employers more flexibility to hire overseas recruits, could be brought forward to tackle an estimated shortfall of 100,000 drivers, the newspaper has said, citing an unnamed government source.
The review was due next year but may be fast-tracked to add heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers to the list, the report added.
The Financial Times newspaper reported on Friday August 27 that ministers have told businesses to hire UK-based workers to address the country's chronic shortage of lorry drivers.
Struggling To Cope
British retailers, cafes and restaurants are struggling to cope with a shortage of drivers and food processing staff after COVID-19.
The problem is not unique to Britain - the United States and other European countries also have truck driver shortages - but Brexit has made matters worse, industry groups say.
Hampering Britain’s Post-Lockdown Economic Rebound
Unprecedented shortages of both staff and materials are hampering Britain's post-lockdown economic rebound, a closely watched economic survey showed last week.
Logistics UK General Manager For Public Policy Statements
Logistics UK general manager for public policy Alex Veitch said that he is disappointed by the government's decision as it could take until early next year to work through a backlog of driving tests that had built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The industry needs drivers now," he said. "Logistics UK is frustrated with the government's decision to reject the logistics industry's call for temporary visas to be made available for EU heavy goods vehicle drivers as a short-term solution while new domestic drivers are recruited, trained and tested."