A week after the gasoline crisis began, the government says the situation is stabilizing and improving.
However, experts say the shortage could last for months, with a senior minister admitting the gasoline shortage will last for at least another “week or so”.
And experts say the scarcity will be widespread – not just limited to fuel and food.
The home appliance company AO warned yesterday of the problems with ensuring deliveries.
Corresponding The mirror, fuel industry leaders say more than one in four gas stations is empty.
The chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has warned that fuel shortages are worsening in some parts of the country.
Brian Madderson said it remains a “really big problem” in London and the South East.
He told BBC Radio 4 Today, “London and the South East and possibly parts of East England had gotten worse.”
Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers would be deployed starting Monday, but warned that the impact will be limited.
“This is not going to be the big panacea,” he said. “It’s a big help, but in terms of volume, you won’t be able to carry that much.
“From now on we need to prioritize deliveries to petrol stations – especially to the independent, i.e. the surrounding retail locations – in London and in the south-east.”
Rising world oil prices mean that motorists have to expect higher prices at the petrol pumps when the petrol stations are supplied again.
“Expect anything from 1, 2, or even 3 pence per liter more on the pump. This is not greed for profit. These are real wholesale price increases caused by global factors. “
The problem was caused by a shortage of 100,000 truck drivers in the UK – not enough to provide food, fuel and other supplies.
Experts believe the situation will only get worse.
Yesterday there were warnings that meat supplies would run out before Christmas.
Ruth Gregory of the consulting firm Capital Economics said, “The clouds are darkening.”
Campaign group FairFuelUK said petrol pump prices will “definitely” rise 5p per liter in the coming week – experts predict fuel prices will hit record highs within weeks.
The pharmacists’ association announced that deliveries to pharmacies had also been delayed.
In Lancashire, 500 schools are offering a reduced lunch menu starting next week.
The council said it would focus on providing jacket potatoes, soups, sandwiches and fresh fruit.
Paramedics and firefighters received letters from the government asking them to change jobs and become truck drivers.
Rod McKenzie, director of the Road Haulage Association, said, “The driver shortage just doesn’t go away.
“We need … urgent action.”
Police Minister Kit Malthouse told the BBC: “We are still seeing strong demand for fuel in parts of the country, although there is no problem with the supply of the country.
“The distribution mechanism is trying to respond to this unprecedented demand.
“My last briefing is that the situation is stabilizing, we see more forecourts with more fuel.
“Hopefully we will see a return to normal when supply and demand balance better in the next few days – about a week.”
The problem is not limited to truck drivers.
Since Brexit and the pandemic, the warehouses where everything we buy, store and distribute has been short of 10,000 workers.
Pubs, hotels and restaurants are close to 200,000 people.
Some venues had to close in the summer or reduce opening times.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, said: “We’re really scared the same thing will happen at Christmas.”
A shortage of garbage collectors across the country has resulted in collections being suspended while hundreds of bus trips are scrapped in the face of the shortage of 4,000 drivers.
A shortage of slaughterhouse workers means animals may have to be killed and cremated on their farms.
Military drivers will be deployed starting Monday to deliver fuel to forecourts as the crisis continues at the pumps.
Almost 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – have completed training at the locations of haulage companies and will start deliveries to relieve the situation at petrol stations, which the ministers believe will be stabilized.
The government also announced that a temporary visa system for nearly 5,000 foreign food transporters, which expired on December 24, will now be extended to the end of February after criticism of its attractiveness for drivers.
It comes as opposition parties held out the prospect of recalling Parliament to address the general situation of labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.
Sir Keir Starmer said the temporary visa program would not go into effect “weekly” and said the Prime Minister should remind parliament, if necessary, to pass laws to ensure shelves stay full until Christmas.
The SNP’s Westminster chief Ian Blackford said Boris Johnson must “immediately recall Parliament and hold bipartisan talks to determine steps to effectively deal with the Brexit crisis.”
He added, “The severe labor shortage, rising costs, empty supermarket shelves, ongoing fuel crisis and trade barriers are all causing serious and lasting damage.”
In an announcement on Friday evening, the government said 300 fuel drivers could enter the UK from overseas “instantly” with a customized temporary visa valid until March.
Around 4,700 additional visas for foreign food transporters will be extended beyond the three months originally announced and will be valid from the end of October to the end of February.
A total of 5,500 poultry workers will also be admitted to fill supermarket shelves with turkeys before Christmas.
The government has stated that these workers, who will be able to enter from the end of October, will now be able to stay under the temporary visa system until December 31st.
The government has said there is no national fuel shortage, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Daily Mail that supply chains in other industries around the world are disrupted.
He told the newspaper, “These bottlenecks are very real,” adding, “We are seeing real disruptions in supply chains in different sectors, not just here but around the world.
“We are determined to do everything we can to try to mitigate this as much as possible.”
He told the newspaper, “As you can imagine, the government is very focused on this because we know how important it is. My children will be very mad at me if there is no real Christmas party. “
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that millions of UK Christmas dinners will be saved by importing turkeys after British Poultry Council Chairman Richard Griffiths told the newspaper that the country’s major producers had cut consumption by about a fifth this year because Brexit cut them off from cheap labor.
A turkey farmer said the imported paper turkeys would likely come from France and Poland.
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