The Armed Forces have begun helping to deliver fuel to petrol stations across the country this morning.
Almost 200 Military tanker personnel, 100 of which are drivers, have been deployed to provide temporary support as part of the government’s wider action to further relieve pressure on petrol stations and address the shortage of HGV drivers.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, downplayed suggestions last week that Brexit had been a factor in the fuel crisis and said the mass cancellations of HGV driver tests during the pandemic had had a far more direct impact.
The Transport Secretary said:
Figures from the Office of National Statistics, show that of the 46,000 drivers who left the haulage industry between 2016 and 2020, only 9,000 (19 per cent) were EU nationals.
National statistics also show the percentage of EU drivers in the UK workforce has remained steady since Brexit.
Demand for fuel has now stabilised and more fuel is being delivered than is being sold, however some parts of the country still face challenges.
To help fuel stocks further improve, military personnel are now on the road delivering fuel supplies across the country.
This comes alongside a range of measures the Government is taking to ease temporary supply chain pressures in food haulage industries, brought on by the pandemic and the global economy rebounding around the world. In a further step to manage these pressures in the short term, the Government is introducing a bespoke scheme allowing up to 300 fuel tanker drivers to the UK on a temporary basis. In these exceptional circumstances, the Home Office is allowing a number of fuel haulage drivers to work in the UK immediately. Hauliers will find licensed drivers to recruit and will submit applications to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which will endorse applicants with the necessary license and a contract to work as a fuel driver.
This forms part of the temporary immigration arrangements announced last week to help provide short term relief for the food and fuel industries and ensure the stability of the UK supply chain in the run up to Christmas. These time limited measures will facilitate the recruitment of the following cohorts over the coming days and weeks:
- 300 fuel drivers who will be able to arrive immediately (subject to immigration checks, and endorsement from BEIS) and stay to work until the end of March 2022
- 4,700 food haulage drivers who will arrive from late October and leave by 28 February 2022
- 5,500 poultry workers who will arrive from late October and be able stay up to 31 December 2021
The Government say the introduction of these temporary, time-limited visa measures, does not detract from a commitment to upskill and increase the wages of UK’s domestic labour, but is in recognition of the extraordinary set of circumstances affecting the stability of the UK supply chain.
Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said:
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
However, the Government says it wants to see employers make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour to build a high-wage, high-skill economy.
Visas will not be the long term solution, and reform within the industry is vital. In addition to short term fixes, the Government is also working with industry to find long term solutions to the shortage of HGV drivers and encourage more people to enter the logistics sector through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.
In line with this approach, the Government and freight associations are now collaborating to drive up the standards of lorry parking facilities – helping to make the HGV industry more attractive for prospective drivers, and supporting the wellbeing of those currently working in the sector.
This ongoing work will build on the 24 interventions the Government say they have already made to tackle the shortage of drivers, which includes an immediate increase in HGV testing and new skills bootcamps to train up to 4,000 more people to become HGV drivers.
Photographer: Cpl Danny HoughtonRLC
UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021