Growing concerns in the U.K. over a shortage of haulage workers to transfer goods across the country have led to pleas for short-term visa entries, according to a BBC News report on Monday. The requests come as Brexit immigration rules and the pandemic have slowed the industry’s ability to recruit drivers.
British government officials, however, are not expected to approve such a measure.
A letter dated on June 23 to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the government to take action on the driver shortage. It was signed by 22 business leaders and represented distributors of food and drinks. The letter asked for “the introduction of a temporary worker visa for HGV drivers and for this occupation to be added to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List.”
The letter described the situation as a “crisis.”
“Several factors have exacerbated the shortage which is now at crisis point (over 100,000) and critical supply chains are failing,” the letter reads.
“We need long-term solutions to recruit a new generation of British lorry drivers into the trade, but short-term there is an urgent need for foreign drivers to be allowed in, under the Shortage Occupations list,” said Rod McKenzie, of the Road Haulage Association.
The government wants the industry to employ British drivers.
Alex Veitch, general manager of public policy at industry body Logistics U.K., said the government needs ”to provide funding for driver training to open the industry up to as many people as possible and deliver their commitment to providing safe, secure parking for drivers.”
“Meanwhile, without a temporary visa for drivers – similar to that recently granted to agricultural workers to pick vital crops – the supply chain will break down,” he said.
U.K. consumers are already seeing rising prices and deliveries pushed back by months.
The RHA estimates “that the U.K. is short of around 100,000 HGV drivers if we’re to ensure that goods can get to where they’re needed when they’re needed.”