Ann Widdecombe says Brexit can’t be blamed for food shortages
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Staff shortages have caused wages to surge in a number of sectors across the UK. The increased competition for employees is being attributed to Brexit, coronavirus and the furlough scheme.
According to The Times, the wages paid to Waitrose LGV drivers have surged by £7,000 over the past 18 months.
The company has begun offering a £1,000 signup bonus to encourage new drivers to join the company.
This means a Waitrose LGV driver earn more than the average for solicitors (£43,190) or secondary level teachers (£40,880)
They also earn more than some head office jobs currently being advertised by Waitrose’s parent company, the John Lewis Partnership.
According to The Times, the Government is considering adding truck drivers to the shortage occupation list to deal with a shortfall of around 100,000.
This would make it easier for companies to hire drivers from overseas.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is urging UK companies to train British staff rather than relying on foreign labour.
On Saturday he urged businesses to recruit from the “many UK-based workers [who] now face an uncertain future and need to find new employment opportunities”.
The Government’s furlough scheme, which has helped combat unemployment, ends on September 30.
While Britain officially left the EU in January 2020, it remained closely tied to the bloc until December during the Brexit transition period.
During this time the UK remained part of the European single market, and continued paying into the Brussels budget.
This was replaced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal at the end of December, which restored Britain as a fully independent trading nation.
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It ended free movement of labour and the UK’s single market membership.
As a result the supply of workers fell for many industries, leading to wage growth.
The coronavirus pandemic also caused a pause in the training of new LGV drivers.
Speaking to the Daily Mail Rod McKenzie, from the RHA, warned the shortage of drivers could cause shop prices to increase.
Brexit and 'failed markets' to blame for shortages says host
He commented: “Certainly drivers’ pay is increasing, often by quite substantial amounts.
“This in turn is a cost that will need to be passed on, and given the tight profit margins of most haulage operators that means their rates to customers will have to go up.
“In turn, this may mean more of us paying higher prices for goods, services and shopping – including food prices – going forward.”
Earlier this week Anna Soubry, a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner, blamed staff shortages directly on the UK’s EU exit.
She tweeted: “Listening to BBC Farming Today & it really is shameful that in all the talk about labour shortages & supply chain failures Brexit was never mentioned.
“Instead Covid is being blamed for the crisis. Covid is obvs relevant but the major villain in Brexit.”
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