UK mulls easing post-Brexit immigration rules to end truck driver shortage

File photo. Half-empty shelves at a supermarket in London, Britain, 22 July 2021. [EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN]

British ministers will consider easing post-Brexit immigration rules to help end a shortage of truck drivers amid mounting pressure from supermarket chains, The Times newspaper reported.

A review of the shortage occupation list, which gives employers more flexibility to hire overseas recruits, could be brought forward to tackle an estimated shortfall of 100,000 drivers, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed government source.

The review was due next year but may be fast-tracked to add heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers to the list, the report added.

The Financial Times newspaper reported earlier on Friday that ministers have told businesses to hire UK-based workers to address the country’s chronic shortage of lorry drivers.

British retailers, cafes and restaurants are struggling to cope with a shortage of drivers and food processing staff after COVID-19.

As shakes and chicken go off the menu, firms urge UK to act

Britain’s leading employers are pushing the government to urgently increase funding to retrain workers and allow Europeans back into key sectors as supply chains buckle under the weight of COVID-19 and Brexit.

The problem is not unique to Britain – the United States and other European countries also have truck driver shortages – but Brexit has made matters worse, industry groups say.

McDonald’s, KFC, bakery chain Greggs and chicken restaurant chain Nando’s have all recently faced disruptions in their supplies.

Unprecedented shortages of both staff and materials are hampering Britain’s post-lockdown economic rebound, a closely watched economic survey showed on Monday (30 August).

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