UK government works on temporary visas for foreign lorry drivers to work in UK

The BBC reported, the UK government is planning a temporary scheme to make it easier for foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK.

According to the BBC, final details are expected this weekend, but any changes to immigration rules would be temporary, and there would be a cap on the number of workers allowed to enter the country.

It said that newspaper reports suggest up to 5,000 temporary visas could be issued.

A shortage of drivers has disrupted fuel deliveries, with some petrol stations closing, and queues forming.

The Road Haulage Association estimates the UK is short of about 100,000 HGV drivers – with existing shortages made worse by the pandemic and Brexit.

Sainsbury’s said it was experiencing “high demand” for fuel, with a “tiny proportion of sites” temporarily closed.

UK lorry

BP said about 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

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EG Group, which has 341 petrol stations in the UK, is introducing a limit of £30 per customer on all grades of fuel due to “unprecedented customer demand”.

The government and industry leaders have sought to reassure the public – saying there is no fuel shortage at refineries, and urging people not to panic buy.

But the shortage of hauliers threatens more disruption to deliveries of petrol, food and other goods.

The European Road Haulers Association said temporary visas would be a “good idea” but are “only part of the solution”.

The association said it was easier to drive within the EU than driving between the EU and the UK, meaning staying in the EU may be more appealing for drivers.

Allan Davison, managing director of Hoyer Petrolog UK – BP’s transport contractor – told the BBC that temporary visas were needed.

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“If this was a permanent request, I would understand the political and practical challenges with that, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s a temporary request.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.”

The spokesperson said the government was looking at temporary, time-limited measures to introduce.

“We are moving to a high wage, high skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience,” the spokesperson added.

The AA said that most of the UK’s forecourts were working as they should, with “just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems”.

Source: BBC