In an attempt to curb the UK workers crisis, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given the green light to a package of measures that includes the issuance of 10,000 temporary visas for foreign workers . Customs barriers, the shortage of truckers and workers in the food industry due to Brexit and the pandemic are responsible for the lack of supplies that the country is experiencing.
The package of measures comes to solve for a few months the bureaucratic obstacles that truck drivers face with the new point system of the British government, according to which they do not meet the qualification requirements to obtain a work visa . For the Secretary of Transportation, Grant Shapps, the resolution of this problem involves increasing wages, control of driving licenses for these vehicles and better working conditions . That or turn to the military to drive the tanker trucks.
The truck driver shortage is also affecting gas stations. This week, BP announced the temporary closure of some of its gas stations due to the impossibility of transporting unleaded fuel and diesel. Other companies like ExxonMobil have also been forced to close some stores.
For their part, members of the food sector have described the measures as insufficient, given that it lacks some 500,000 employees. So they are asking the British government to expand the government’s seasonal farm worker program, which currently only allows 30,000 foreigners to help with the harvest. If this continues, the food and agricultural groups warn that they will be forced to reduce harvests by 2022 , which would reduce production and increase prices.
In addition to the workers’ crisis, the British government faces rising energy prices and the cost of materials, inflation, a rise in social security and cuts in universal credit , among others.
Permanent food shortages
The chronic mismatch left by Brexit and the pandemic has destroyed the supermarket and restaurant supply system , depleting their stocks and leading to empty shelves and incomplete menus.
Ian Wright, director of the UK Food and Drink Federation, recently warned that the UK is facing a “permanent shortage” of food and drink . Although he called for calm assuring that the country was not going to run out of food, he also pointed out that the shortage of food and beverages will be the usual pattern from now on .
For its part, Downing Street assured that the shortage of some food products will not be permanent . According to Executive Spokesperson Jamie Davies, UK supply chains are highly resilient and have proven to cope with challenges extremely well.