Grant Shapps says fuel crisis a ‘manufactured crisis’ and blames a road haulage association
Transport secretary Grant Shapps claimed the fuel crisis was a “manufactured situation” caused by a leak to the media by a road haulage association, after panic buying hit petrol stations across the country.
The minister made the comments after announcing plans to recruit 5,000 lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers until Christmas Eve in a bid to tackle the shortage of workers.
However business groups said the temporary visa scheme as “too little, too late” and the equivalent of “throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.”
Retailers warned that the government had just 10 days to save Christmas from significant disruption due to the shortage of up to 100,000 HGV drivers across the UK.
Motorists were still scrambling to find fuel on Sunday morning as suppliers struggled to keep up with increased demand. Some ambulance workers and carers have reported difficulties in finding fuel over the weekend amid warnings that the situation is “going to get worse before its better”.
Follow the latest developments in our live coverage below
Will European lorry drivers want to come to the UK?
Road haulage bosses have questioned whether European HGV drivers will take up the government’s offer of 5,000 temporary visas until Christmas.
Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: “Twelve weeks is an incredibly short period of time if you are working in Poland or somewhere else in Europe.”
“They will see an advert tomorrow if they are lucky, they’ll apply for the job, they will need to find somewhere to live in Britain, assuming they get a visa, and then they will have to hand their notice in wherever they are working now.
“You can work it out that 12 weeks suddenly becomes 10 weeks, becomes eight weeks and then becomes ‘crikey, is it worth it?’.
“We will have to see how much of a take-up there is, and 5,000, as others have said in the media, is a very small number when you are talking about 100,000 shortage.”
Marco Digioia, the head of the European Road Haulers Association, told the Observer that “much more would be needed”. He added: “There is a driver shortage across Europe. I am not sure how many would want to go to the UK.
“Tempting European drivers back to the UK when they also have to face the reality of customs and border checks, all the uncertainties of Brexit … We have to be realistic.”
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 10:01
HGV driver shortage a ‘cocktail of chaos’, says RHA
The Road Haulage Association said a “cocktail of chaos” has created a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK.
Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, told the PA news agency that Britain had already been 50,000 drivers short before the pandemic and Brexit.
“Add to that 40,000 cancelled trucker training tests because of the pandemic restrictions, add to that 20,000 European truckers who had to go home because of Brexit immigration rules, so that adds up to 100,000 – that’s why we’re in the pickle we’re in,” he said.
“There is a cocktail of chaos here, it’s no one single thing. I appreciate the government is briefing that it’s all about Covid-19, but there is a historic shortage in this country.”
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 09:55
Shapps does not rule out bringing in Army drivers
Grant Shapps has refused to rule out bringing in the Army to drive HGVs to tackle the supply chain crisis.
He told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We will do whatever is required.
“The Army are going to at the moment make sure we are testing HGV drivers, that’s where the bottleneck is.”
The minister also asked the public to “do their part” in only refilling their cars when needed, calling current forecourt queues “an unnecessary situation”.
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 09:49
Government lack of planning to blame for ‘absolute crisis’, says Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer has blamed Britain’s supply chain crisis on the government’s “total lack of planning” since Brexit.
He told BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We have got an absolute crisis in the country because of a lack of planning on the part of the government
“For a long time there has been a problem with HGV drivers, but we knew when we left the EU we had to have a back up plan to deal with the situation. But there was no plan.”
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 09:39
Grant Shapps blames ‘leak’ to media for fuel crisis
Here’s the full quote where Grant Shapps blamed a ‘leak’ to the media for the fuel crisis – which he described as a “rather manufactured situation”.
He told Sky News: “There was a meeting which took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting in which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to media, and that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern as people naturally react to those things.
“The good news is there is plenty of fuel, the bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it then we will continue to have queues.
“Sooner or later everyone’s cars will be more or less filled up, there won’t be anywhere else to put fuel. It’s not like the toilet roll crisis at the beginning of the pandemic where people could stockpile it, therefore it will come to an end.
“We just appeal to people to be sensible, fill up when you normally would. We’ve got this big package in place today in order to help alleviate the pressure and we ask people to do their part.”
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 09:24
Britain’s fuel crisis a ‘manufactured situation’, says Shapps
Transport minister Grant Shapps described the fuel crisis as a “manufactured situation” as he appealed to the public to “be sensible”.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News, he sought to defend the government’s U-turn on foreign visas from criticism that it was “too little, too late”.
He claimed the problems at petrol stations across Britain were caused by a briefing to the media by a road haulage association earlier this week.
Mr Shapps also cast the blame on the pandemic, adding: “Coronavirus has created massive shortages of lorry drivers throughout Europe and the world and stopped us testing them.”
He said: “There is plenty of fuel, there is no shortage of fuel within the country,” he said, urging motorists to ‘fill their cars as they normally would’.
Grant Shapps says fuel crisis is ‘manufactured’ and blames haulage association
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 09:01
Panic buying leaves motorists frustrated at fuel shortage
Motorists are still taking to social media to express their frustration at fuel shortages following two days of panic buying.
The issue first emerged on Thursday when BP announced it was restriction supplies at up to 100 out of its 1,200 sites.
Since then several operators, including Esso, Shell and Sainsbury’s, have reported a strain on supplies due to the increased demand and EG Group has imposed a £30 fuel limit at its 400 stations.
There are more than 8,000 petrol stations across the UK in total.
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 08:43
‘They think it’s the end of the world’: Panic buying at the pumps
Panic buying caused traffic gridlock and frayed tempers yesterday, with long queues of motorists at fuel stations across the country.
There were reports of fights on forecourts as some suppliers limited supplies due to the increased demand.
In Edinburgh some motorists blamed the media for the scramble, while others expressed relief at finding petrol stations that had not yet been overwhelmed.
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 08:31
HGV driver visa plan ‘too little, too late’
Marc Fels, director of the HGV Recruitment Centre, has described the plans to offer temporary visas to 5,000 foreign lorry drivers as “too little” and “too late”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Every additional driver that is coming into the sector at the moment is going to be of benefit.
“But I feel this is too little, because the numbers coming in, 5,000, is not going to make a very large dent on the 90,000-100,000 that we are perceived to be short.
“And too late because we have been understanding these problems have been coming as early as April this year, so we are moving into October and only now are the Government coming up with these solutions when this has been an issue since April.”
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 08:19
Emergency visas ‘insufficient’ to solve supply chain crisis, say business groups
Last night the government confirmed that it would issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers in a bid to tackle Britain’s supply chain crisis.
Transport secretary said the scheme would run out on Christmas Eve and also outlined plans to increase the number of HGV tests taking place.
However business groups criticised the move as “insufficient” to prevent Christmas from being hit by disruption and compared it to “throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire”.
Peter Stubley26 September 2021 08:14