To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure the effective operation of food and drink supply chains in the context of labour shortages.
28 September 2021
The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built on access to a range of sources, including robust supply chains domestically, and from other countries. Government has well established ways of working with the industry monitor and address risks that may arise. Measures currently in place to ease supply chain pressures include a relaxation to driver's hours rules and food retail delivery hours restrictions. Up to 5,500 poultry workers and 5,000 HGV drivers transporting food and fuel will be able to enter the UK for work in the lead up to Christmas 2021. Defra continues to work closely across Government and with key stakeholders to assess how we can best facilitate food supply sectors to operate normally through this period.
The Government is also working closely with the industry on specific measures to support the logistics sector as it experiences shortages of qualified HGV drivers, including a package of measures to support recruitment and retention of new drivers.
We are encouraging all industry sectors to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and investment in automation technology. In 2021 and beyond, food and farming businesses also continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 5.3 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme and EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do work in the food and drink sector in 2021.