The government’s plan to add 5,000 HGV drivers to the visa scheme has been a lukewarm reception by the industry.
Unveiled as a way to ease the supply chain pressures being felt due to a shortage of HGV drivers, the temporary visas will allow 5,000 drivers to work in the UK until 24 December. A further 5,500 poultry workers have also been added to the scheme to alleviate pressures in the run-up to Christmas.
Announcing the measures, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.
“We are acting now but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.”
Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby told TalkRadio that “it won’t really make that much difference”.
Too little, too late. 5,000 extra HGV drivers might keep panic buying off the front pages, but it won't make much difference to wholesalers delivering to restaurants, pubs and local shops. https://t.co/OsGq7BPVQJ— FWD (@FWDwholesale) September 27, 2021
Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said the measures won’t go far enough to ease the problems. “It’s unlikely the UK will get more than a few weeks from any overseas trucker, once they have applied, been granted permission and found somewhere to live in the UK, quite apart from leaving their current job and that may not be enough for companies or the drivers themselves to be attractive. ”
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright CBE said a more long-term solution was needed. “We welcome the Government’s pragmatic decision to temporarily add HGV drivers and poultry workers to the existing visa scheme.
“This is something UK food and drink manufacturers have asked for over the last few months - including in industry’s Grant Thornton report - to alleviate some of the pressure labour shortages have placed on the food supply chain. This is a start but we need the Government to continue to collaborate with industry and seek additional long term solutions.”