New cross-governmental group tasked with saving Christmas amid ongoing driver shortage

Wed 15 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

empty supermarket shelves

A new cross-governmental group is being set up to fix Britain’s supply chain problems in the run up to Christmas.

The National Economic Recovery Taskforce (Logistics) will aim to rapidly increase the number of HGV drivers and work with food suppliers to avoid the prospect of empty supermarket shelves over the festive period.

Gove or grinch?

The Times reports that Michael Gove will lead the new taskforce.

Gove was also appointed as the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in today’s (15 September) reshuffle.

Perfect storm

Marks and Spencer chairman Archie Norman has warned of a “bumpy ride” in the lead up to Christmas with supermarkets facing “a perfect storm” due to the driver shortage and global supply chain issues following the pandemic.

Labour shortages have also affected the food production industry, while international traders have been grappling with soaring freight costs and shipping delays throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coordination

According to the Telegraph, the new committee will co-ordinate government departments responsible for the food chain – including DEFRA and the Department for Transport. 

It is expected to run along similar lines to the no-deal Brexit preparations apparatus, for which Gove had a similar troubleshooting role.

Changes

The committee is expected to push through changes to the HGV licensing system that can cost applicants more than £250 to access.

However, it continues to refuse to loosen immigration rules for EU drivers, despite widespread calls from the logistics industry.

Drivers poached

The UK currently has a shortfall of 100,000 drivers, according to estimates from the Road Haulage Association.

The Times reports that some organisations have even resorted to poaching bin lorry drivers.