The government has been urged to “get a handle” on the “immediate and systemic” problems currently causing the supply chain crisis affecting the country, by a cross-party commission.
The UK Trade and Business Commission, which was setup to scrutinise the government’s post-Brexit trade deals, yesterday (2 September) hosted a hearing on the problems causing the current shortage of HGV drivers affecting supply chains across all industries.
Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, who chaired the hearing, told the Guardian: “The witnesses painted a pretty stark picture for the months ahead unless the Government acts quickly. They made it quite clear that red tape and labour shortages from Brexit have exacerbated problems that are being acutely felt across production, processing, manufacturing, retail and of course logistics.
“The government needs to get a handle on this both in the short and long term and we will be making recommendations based on the evidence we heard today.”
During the session Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), warned that he expects the situation to only become “more challenging” for retailers over the next three months if the government does not intervene.
He said: “We’re just heading into our busiest period. For non-food retailers they’re facing their busiest three months of the year in the run up to Christmas. Even in food, which is more consistent, there is “30% plus increase in volume” in the lead up to Christmas.
“It’s challenging at the moment and we expect it to get much more challenging over the next three months. We’ve had challenging periods…what’s different this time is we feel we’re always just on the edge of coping. Anything exceptional will be a challenge…”
He added: “It’s not too late for the government to do something to make sure there isn’t a problem over Christmas.”
“It’s challenging at the moment and we expect it to get much more challenging over the next 3 months” says Opie @the_brc
“We’ve had challenging periods…what’s different this time is we feel we’re always just on the edge of coping. Anything exceptional will be a challenge” 4/
— UK Trade & Business Commission (@UKTradeBusiness) September 2, 2021
The news comes weeks after the government reportedly rejected calls to install temporary visas which would allow HGV drivers from the EU to help alleviate the current shortfall of drivers in the UK.
According to the Financial Times, ministers rejected the idea put forward by Logistics UK and the BRC but have backed calls to increase the training available to potential drivers.