Sunday, 19 Sep 2021

‘Brexit issues coming to light!’ Hauliers warn ‘perfect storm’ threatens UK supply chain

Disruption of supply chain a 'perfect storm' says RHA spokesperson

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Brexit has returned to the spotlight as hauliers rung alarm bells about potential goods shortages in Britain’s future. The Road Hauliers Association (RHA) and other industry representatives have warned a shortage of HGV drivers has been further exacerbated by the high number of EU drivers now not allowed into the UK because of post-Brexit visa rules. RHA spokesman Martin Reid claimed Britain’s departure from the European Union added “one or two more elements” to an already challenging situation.

Speaking to GB News, Mr Reid said: “Some of the issues that were forced by Brexit are now coming to light.

“The lockdown kinda sheltered things for quite some time but now that most industries are fully operational again, these shortages are starting to show.

“It’s the perfect storm, there’s no one problem that caused all of this just like there isn’t one solution that’s going to fix it all.

“It’s literally been a perfect storm of five, six different factors all coming into play in what was an already-existing problem.”

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“The drivers’ shortages is not a new thing, it’s been going on for some time but the factors that have happened since January 1 have added one or two more elements to it that have it made of an issue than it was previously.”

The RHA spokesman insisted the only long-term solution to avoid further disruption would be to train many more drivers but warned it would take time.

He continued: “We’ve been in touch with the UK Government, we’ve got a number of short-term options that we’re looking for.

“But the medium and long-term options are that we train more and more people within the UK to fill these shortages. 

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“This, of course, takes time as does looking at wage renegotiating, terms and conditions for drivers across the UK.

“And these things are going on now. But in the short-term, we need drivers to fill these vacancies in order to keep the shelves stacked.”

Mr Reid’s warning comes as Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng rejected calls from the farming industry to review visa arrangements from countries within the European Union.

Farmers have suggested the loss of cheap labour from the EU could cause a severe backlog in fruit and vegetable picking as well as rearing chickens and turkeys.

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Mr Kwarteng is reported to have urged the industry to invest in British manpower, saying that “many UK-based workers (who) now face an uncertain future and need to find new employment opportunities”.

A Government spokeswoman said: “We have a highly resilient food supply chain and well-established ways of working with the food sector to address food supply chain disruptions.

“We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of driving tests able to be conducted.

“However, most of the solutions are likely to be driven by industry, with progress already being made in testing and hiring, and a big push towards improving pay, working conditions, and diversity.

“We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.”

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