Ministers are being urged to temporarily relax immigration rules with supply chain disruption set to get worse in the next few weeks

But government isn't budging: "We want to build a resilient domestic workforce and not rely on immigration to do this"…
A long-standing HGV driver shortage is being compounded by Covid & post-Brexit immigration rules

But it's not just drivers where the UK is lacking

Crops are going unpicked due to shortages elsewhere in the supply chain, @NigelFpc tells @politicshome…
Government has relaxed drivers' hours rules and plans to speed up tests (current backlog = 45,000) in an bid to tackle the shortage

But the industry says overseas drivers and other supply chain workers should be added to the occupation shortage list…
However, the government is adamant that it will not relax immigration rules to allow more overseas drivers and other supply chain workers into the UK, despite the disruption

The industry should hire more UK workers and make the job more appealing, it says…
And as food supply chains go, the worst is almost certainly yet to come

August: lots of drivers and workers taking holiday — rightly, the industry says — after working non-stop during Covid

October: checks on EU imports begin. January is a big concern…
Around 2,000 members of the Army are being put on standby as the UK's HGV driver shortage worsens… Image

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More from @adampayne26

17 Nov
A Labour MP quips “derailed” as the PM dodges Starmer’s questions on whether he’ll keep his promises to the north on railway improvements #PMQs
Starmer calls the PM “a coward, not a leader.” Very punchy. Tory benches looking a bit quiet and fed up #PMQs
It all just kicked off between Lindsay Hoyle and the PM — the former bellows at Johnson “in this House, I’m in charge!” as he PM tries to bring up Starmer’s links to Mishcon de Reya #PMQs
Read 5 tweets
12 Nov
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic with some warm(ish) words following his meeting this morning with Lord Frost. He says he acknowledges and welcomes Frost's "changing tone" in talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol after a fairly tense few weeks.
Sefcovic once again welcomes Lord Frost's "change in tonality," saying talk of the UK potentially triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol had featured "too often" in their discussions prior to today
And the UK statement: Frost told Sefcovic Protocol talks have been conducted in a “constructive spirit” but there must be “new energy and impetus.” Negotiations will be intensified next week, with particular focus on medicine and customs. “Significant gaps” remain, of course. Image
Read 5 tweets
19 Oct
Duncan Buchanan of the Road Haulage Association tells @CommonsBEIS he expects supply chain disruption resulting from labour shortages to last another 12 months
The @Foodanddrinkfed's Ian Wright: supply chain issues are "long-term" and will continue to result in "very odd shortages." He says some supermarkets are filling seasonal shelves with Lynx because they are low on stock, "not because the nation has suddenly become really smelly"
Wright adds inflation is the biggest thread to Boris Johnson's levelling-up agenda. It's between 14% and 18% in hospitality at the moment and "that's terrifying," he tells @CommonsBEIS
Read 6 tweets
13 Oct
The EU reveals its substantial offer on the NI Protocol

- reduce SPS checks by 80%
- cut customs paperwork by half
- free flow of medicines

But it's standing firm on the ECJ. "Big gap" remains if UK sticks to its line, EU source warns

Sefovic & Frost to meet next few days
On SPS, as @tconnellyRTE reported last night, lorries carrying mixed consignments (e.g meat, fish, cheese) would just require just one piece of paperwork to enter NI under the EU proposals, whereas now there can be any number of documents depending on the number of items
An EU source says the ECJ must stay because it has little to do with GB-NI trade issues

That key difference aside, NI business groups are encouraged by the package of measures offered by Brussels

Both sides aim to strike a deal before the New Year…
Read 4 tweets
12 Oct
Lord Frost in his Lisbon speech, philosophically titled Observations on The Present State of the Nation, says UK-EU relations are "fractious" and that resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol is a "prerequisite" for them improving
Frost says going for what some people dubbed a "hard Brexit" - i.e leaving the Single Market and Customs Union - was "essential" because only that form of Brexit would give the UK the freedom "to experiment and act"
Frost says too often the debate about Brexit is "technocratic" and focused on trade, rather than democracy
Read 9 tweets
1 Oct
New: I’m told the Home Office has changed the visa scheme so it no longer ends on Xmas Eve. Driver visas will last the full 3 months from the day work starts, industry told today. @politicshome reported this wk industry concern that the scheme would be <three months in practice.
The government believes EU workers will begin arriving in early November, as @politicshome reported. A Home Office plan shown to industry figures today says ministers expect lorry drivers to be in the UK until the end of February, and poultry workers until the end of January
EU poultry workers are expected to be here until December 31, not the end of January. The slide shown to industry earlier was wrong and has been corrected.
Read 4 tweets

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