Foreign HGV Driver Visa Plan “Insufficient” to Solve Christmas Supply Chain Problems: UK Government Warns

According to the business group, the UK government’s plan to provide foreign truck drivers with 5,000 three-month visas is “insufficient” to address supply problems by Christmas.

The government has announced a temporary visa scheme that will allow 5,000 heavy duty vehicle (HGV) drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to work in the UK until Christmas Eve. gas station.

Interventions took place in a long line at gas stations after some retailers were forced to stop selling pumps and rations due to a shortage of fuel tanker drivers. ..

However, the British Retail Consortium and the British Chamber of Commerce have criticized the scope of the series of measures revealed by Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps on Saturday. -Skilled economy after Brexit.

The change to issue short-term visas starting next month “guarantees that preparations are going well” for the holiday season, Mr. Chaps said.

However, Chamber of Commerce Chairman Baroness McGregor Smith said consumers and businesses are facing an “unhappy Christmas” due to “insufficient” visa provision.

Retailers had previously warned the government that there would be only 10 days to save Christmas from the “serious turmoil” due to a shortage of about 90,000 drivers in the freight sector.

“Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum number of people allowed under the scheme, they are not enough to address the scale of the problems currently occurring in our supply chain,” conservative. Said the peer.

“This announcement is the same as throwing a thimble at a bonfire.”

Andrew Opy, director of the UK Retail Consortium, said the 5,000 HGV visa limit “is of little help in alleviating the current shortage” and will extend visas to “all sectors of the retail industry.” I asked.

“We estimate that supermarkets alone will need at least 15,000 HGV drivers to be fully operational before Christmas and avoid confusion and availability issues.”

Shortage of truck drivers Rows of British gas stations
The driver will queue gasoline and diesel fuel at a gas station on the M3 Expressway near Fleet in western London on September 26, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Adrian Dennis / AFP, via Getty Images)

The relaxation of immigration rules was welcomed by other industry groups, but Food and Beverage Federation chief Ian Wright called the measure “practical,” and Logistics UK listened to the government’s concerns about carriers. He said he showed that.

Richard Walker, managing director of Icelandic supermarkets, called the announcement “important” and called for clerk and other key workers to be tracked as soon as they passed the line of petrol pumps. ..

“Until this is eased, supermarket bosses will pump priority to key workers, including food retailers, to keep hospital operations and grocery stores open, and to maintain national safety and nutrition. I need to do it. “

In addition to visa changes, the Department of Transportation (DfT) plans to train more than 4,000 truck drivers through both a £ 10 million ($ 13.68 million) investment in skills camps and the establishment of an adult education budget. I said there is. A license that the state is eligible to pay for the course.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) will intervene to provide examiners for truck driver’s license exams as the minister aims to steadily expand the size of the workforce.

Authorities said the MoD examiner’s loan to work with drivers and employees of the Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) would help conduct “thousands of additional tests” in the next 12 weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the global shortage of truck drivers, but in the UK, long-term problems such as aging labor force, low wages and poor truck parking are available. had.

To encourage people to return to the industry, nearly a million letters will arrive on the front mats of HGV licensed people within a few days, urging them to start over.

According to DfT, the letter describes the steps the transport sector is taking to improve the industry situation, including wage increases, flexible working hours and fixed hours.

Authorities said the government was focusing on raising wages and improving working conditions and workforce diversity, rather than relying on cheap foreign workers to fill vacancies in the long run.

DfT acknowledged that imports of foreign workers would not be a “long-term solution” to the problem and said it wanted to invest in establishing a solid domestic workforce.