The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Priti’s rules on migrants blamed for food crisis
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.’