The British Retail Consortium (BRC) suggests the government’s latest HGV driver scheme doesn’t go far enough. Over the weekend, it was announced that 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up the Christmas in order to provide short-term relief for the haulage industry.
Andrew Opie, director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, says: “While we welcome the visa scheme to allow HGV drivers from abroad to help temporarily fill domestic shortages in food and fuel logistics, the limit of 5,000 visas will do little to alleviate the current shortfall. Supermarkets alone have estimated they need at least 15,000 HGV drivers for their businesses to be able to operate at full capacity ahead of Christmas and avoid disruption or availability issues.
“The BRC and its members have long been calling for temporary visas to ease the current pressures on the supply chain and it is vital that this is implemented as soon as possible to keep supply chains moving. However, Christmas is about more than just food, so to avoid disappointment for millions of households during the festive season we urge the government to extend this programme, both in size and scope, to HGV drivers in all sectors of the retail industry. Retailers continue to play their part by helping to train thousands of new British HGV drivers, as well as increasing pay rates for those employed.”