The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Priti’s rules on migrants blamed for food crisis

- By Jake Ryan and Glen Owen

PRITI PATEL was criticised by Cabinet colleagues last week over concerns that immigratio­n rules are contributi­ng to a shortage of food on supermarke­t shelves, The Mail on Sunday understand­s.

The Home Office’s post-Brexit regulation­s mean hauliers and other supply chain employers are finding it increasing­ly difficult to fill vacant roles.

Industry insiders say warehouse bosses and other employers are operating at 80 per cent of staff capacity due to visa stipulatio­ns, which include a minimum salary of £25,600 for skilled foreign workers.

The Government provides a list of about 250 categories eligible for five-year visas for jobs that include butchers and fishmonger­s.

Well-placed sources say a ‘perfect storm’ of reopening from lockdown, fewer available workers and the ‘pingdemic’ had caused unpreceden­ted pressure on staffing across the food supply chain.

Shane Brennan, of the Cold Chain Federation, said: ‘The main driver of the supermarke­t shortages is the so-called “pingdemic” and the reopening after lockdown, but there were underlying problems because of Brexit and the fact many workers have left the country.

‘We need changes to be able to bring in more workers, particular­ly drivers, otherwise we are going to find it increasing­ly difficult.’

The British Retail Consortium has called for drivers to be granted seasonal six-month visas similar to farm workers. Government sources denied that the Home Secretary had been criticised. A spokesman said: ‘We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom