Temporary visas should allow foreign heavy truck drivers to help reduce petrol queues

Temporary visas should allow foreign heavy truck drivers to help reduce petrol queues

The government has paved the way for a visa change that will allow thousands of truck drivers to drive in the UK.

The temporary measures would allow foreign heavy truck drivers to fill gaps that have been blamed for causing queues at gas pumps and shortages of some food items.

On Friday, ministers met for urgent discussions on how to deal with what has been deemed a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers.

Number 10 said he was considering “temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems”, without specifying what will be done.

However, Sky deputy political editor Sam Coates reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had paved the way for the visa change in the hopes it could prevent a crisis.

Details are expected to be revealed on Sunday in a bid to eclipse the start of Labor Party Conference.

Analysis by Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor

This marks a big change in approach. Previously, the government had focused on issuing visas to highly skilled people in the hope that labor shortages would push up wages to make the professions more attractive to people already living in the UK. .

However, the short-term consequence of this proved too disruptive for heavy industry, which is why ministers were forced to act.

The cabinet has received stern warnings of the consequences of a lack of action and the worsening situation, affecting everything from the distribution of food to the NHS to the delivery of water purification chemicals.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘We have sufficient stocks of fuel in this country and the public should be reassured that there is no shortage.

“But like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary shortage of COVID-related drivers needed to get supplies across the country.

“We are considering temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly limited in time.

“We are moving towards a highly skilled, high-wage economy and companies will need to adapt by investing more in recruitment and training to ensure long-term resilience. “

Traders have warned the government has only 10 days to save Christmas from a “major disruption” due to the shortage.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that disruption of holiday preparations will be “inevitable” if progress is not made.

A small number of gas stations have closed due to fuel shortages

Sky political correspondent Tamara Cohen reported earlier that ministers were divided over whether or not to offer temporary visas in an attempt to alleviate the shortage of heavy truck drivers.

Meanwhile, Sky News understands that ministries are being urged to make contingency plans in case high fuel prices persist.

Suggestions include the use of military driving examiners so people can qualify as heavy truck drivers faster.

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Why are there supply shortages in the UK?

Heavy truck-qualified troops have the ability to test future civilian drivers to enable them to acquire the right qualifications to drive heavy-duty trucks, a defense source told Sky News.

But the source added that there had been no demand for the military itself to provide tanker drivers.

“No one asked us to provide drivers. No one is asking us now. I don’t expect anyone to ask us to provide drivers, ”they said.

On Friday afternoon, BP said between 50 and 100 stations were affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel, with about 20 of its 1,200 sites currently closed due to a loss of supply.

EG Group, which has 341 service stations across the UK, has imposed a spending limit of £ 30 on customers “due to current unprecedented customer demand for fuel”.

Shell reported “increased demand” at stations, with many drivers facing longer-than-normal queues.

Tesco said two of its 500 gas stations were affected – describing the impact as minimal.

Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons said they were not affected.

The AA said most of the forecourts in the UK are functioning as they should, with President Edmund King saying: ‘There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are functioning normally, only a few are suffering. temporary supply chain problems. “

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The shortage of truck drivers “a cocktail of chaos”

Speaking to Kay Burley, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said the driver shortage is expected to “ease pretty quickly” as more heavy-duty test drives have been made available.

“The problem is not new”, insisted the secretary of transport, adding: “There has been a shortage of drivers for many months during this pandemic because during the confinement the drivers were not able to pass the weight tests. of their truck, and that’s what led to this problem. “

The latest ONS labor force survey found that 14,000 EU truck drivers left the UK in the year through June 2020.


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