Labour shortage and supply chain crisis are part of a post-Brexit 'period of adjustment'

Mon 4 Oct 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Boris Johnson

Prime minister Boris Johnson has indicated that ongoing shortages of HGV drivers, some goods and fuel are part of a “period of adjustment” following Brexit and Covid.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week, Johnson claimed that his plan for a higher wage, higher skilled economy would offer a long-term solution.

The PM would not say if Christmas would be affected by supply chain shortages and did not rule out tax rises in future, the BBC reports.

“We don't want to raise taxes, of course we don’t, but what we will not do is be irresponsible with the public finances,” he said.

Leave the immigration lever

Despite recently U-turning on issuing temporary visas for a limited number of EU drivers and food workers, Johnson said there was no going “back to the tired, failed old model, reaching for the lever called uncontrolled migration, to get people in at low wages”, reports Politico.

The prime minister said that business were best placed to fix the current disruption and address shortages as the government “can’t step in and fix every bit of the supply chain”.

His comments were echoed by other ministers as the government sought to put distance between itself and the disruption.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak agreed labour shortages could not be solved by a “default, knee jerk pull [of] the immigration lever” but insisted the government would be pragmatic in addressing present challenges.

City blames Brexit

According to Financial News, executives in the City of London blame Brexit and “government mishandling” for the UK’s ongoing fuel crisis

More than a third of executives contacted by the website cited the UK’s split from the EU as the “primary cause” of the crisis that has seen Britons queuing for hours at petrol stations across the country.

Back to work package

However, with the furlough scheme ending last week, Sunak is today announcing a £500m package of support for those now entering the labour market in a hope to address the labour shortage in the country, reports the FT.

The money will go towards the ‘Plan for Jobs’ scheme that was launched during the pandemic.