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News | 2nd September 2021

National labour crisis felt by local businesses

Shortage of 100,000 drivers impacts on deliveries across the UK


LOCAL businesses are feeling the effects of a labour crisis as shops, hotels, and pubs report they are struggling to have stock delivered.

There is a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, a Road Haulage Association survey estimates.

It means the problems are being felt nationally and according to Markit PMI, a closely-watched economic indicator, figures for August the UK’s recovery had stumbled due to labour and supply shortages, as well as rising Covid-19 case numbers.

UK manufacturers face delivery delays and it is disrupting production schedules across the board, resulting in increased costs on nearly every level.

The Eskdale Hotel stated they have felt the effects of the shortage of lorry drivers and item availability.

“It’s a shortage of operatives, supply chain issues, and the lack of HGV drivers and it is having a huge impact,” said the hotel’s proprietor John Galloway.

“Items and produce that are normally available have been greatly reduced, in recent weeks it’s getting worse, we’ve even had missed deliveries, substitutions, and availability of items change status from the suppliers to be on backorder.

“There’s so many reasons for it, the pandemic has meant previous workers have found other jobs or are no longer in the country, then there’s the impact of companies being restricted on how many staff they take on due to insurance premiums.”

The hospitality industry body UK Hospitality has said there is more than 188,000 vacancies to be filled.

Mr Galloway said he felt recovery would come next year.

Latimers of Langholm owner David Latimer said the problems stemmed from the effects of both the Covid pandemic and Brexit on both supply chain and the availability of foreign workers.

“Everything has completely changed in terms of where it is available, who is able to provide and how it’s going to get here,” he said.

“Then there’s the knock-on effect on prices too, if it costs more to bring an item in or workers in this country need to be enticed with better pay to work then it’s going to cost more and it’s going to cost the customer more.

“Every trade is affected and it does need to be looked at, but I think things could be worse, there’s so much going on in the world and we’ve got to remember that.”

Food and drinks organisations and the National Farmers Union Scotland called for urgent government action to tackle the issues.

In a recent survey of 88 Scottish businesses 93% of them currently had job vacancies.

An open letter was sent to the Scottish and UK governments calling for a 12-month covid recovery visa for the food and drink supply chain, and a waiver for its fees until 2022 plus an urgent review by the Migration Advisory committee on the industry’s needs.

Many more businesses in Langholm have reported delivery and availability of stock issues, including brewery deliveries for the Douglas Hotel and the Langholm Co-op, with customers especially concerned about the availability of milk and bread.

Both have now been resolved.

However, Browns Family Butcher said they were unaffected by the current issues being experienced nationally.

“We get most of our stock locally and we make up the products, like pies ourselves,” said co-owner David Crossan.

“During lockdown it was quite similar too, and often we were the only place that had any produce.

“I realise though that the supply chain may be affected as the months go on and we’ll be keeping an eye on it as it gets closer to Christmas.”

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