On Saturday, government sources alleged that BP’s claim 10 days ago that a shortage of drivers would result in its ration of gas station deliveries appeared to have been deliberately leaked, in a bid that “strengthen the Government to relax immigration policies”.
BP denied being behind the leak, stating: “That’s nothing wrong. We have flatly rejected that suggestion.”
On Saturday night, ministers announced that an additional 5,000 HGV fuel tanker and food truck drivers would be able to go to the UK in three months, “providing short -term relief for the haulage industry”, with further 5,500 visas for poultry workers available for the same short period – following the lobbying of the food industry.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said the move was designed to protect households ’preparations for Christmas.
The supply chain crisis has hit pharmacies
In other developments, patients face a lack of over-the-counter medication and delays in prescriptions because a shortage of van drivers is hitting pharmacies.
Meanwhile, the household energy bill is set to go up of more than £ 300 a month as the country’s poorest families take the biggest financial hit, according to forecasts by the Center for Economics and Business Research.
Writing for The Telegraph, Andrea Leadsom, the former secretary of business and energy, described the energy price cap as a “sledgehammer” that “distorts the market” and has “unintended consequences”.
As part of a package of steps intended discuss the shortage of HGV drivers, the Government announced plans to train up to 4,000 more people to become HGV drivers, including through new “skills bootcamps”, as well as “immediate deployment” of driving examiners of the military to lay thousands of additional tests.
A letter to all one million HGV drivers currently licensed will “encourage those leaving the industry to return.”
Industries ‘must do their part’
However, the Government warned that ministers “want to see employers make long -term investments in the UK domestic workforce” with “better pay”.
Mr. Shapps said: “We are acting now, but industries must also keep up with working conditions that continue to improve and the corresponding wage increases continue to be maintained so that companies can retain new drivers.
“I know how important Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to make sure preparations stay on track.”
Mr. Johnson has held several meetings on the issue in recent days.
As of Saturday night, the Ministry of Defense had not yet received a formal request for military drivers to assist in delivering fuel to station forecourts, despite planning that it was undesirable for them to do so.
More than 40 petrol stations have closed or sold all fuel, with 18 of the 95 motorway service stations said to be experiencing supply problems.
The violence and queuing marks the day of the fuel mess
A paramedic said he struggled to find fuel for an emergency ambulance on Friday. On Saturday, a fight broke out at a forecourt in Sidlesham, Chichester.
Prices rose 15 pence in two hours at another petrol station in Kent, according to Howard Cox, founder of Fair Fuel UK. Other stations have increased their prices by five to six cents, he added.
Asda’s Brighton Marina petrol station sold 6,000 liters of fuel in under 90 minutes, where the garage would typically sell that quantity in a full day.
The buying panic began after it emerged BP told officials that ministers needed to understand the “urgency of the problem” because it restricted delivery to 100 sites.
Greg Smith, the Conservative MP for Buckingham, said thousands of HGVs had been commissioned to build the HS2 rail line at the expense of taxpayers, which could exacerbate the deficit.
“In my jurisdiction alone there are 600 HGV movements a day connected to the construction of HS2,” he said. “Those are all taxpayer -funded drivers. They should be stopped and moved into the supply chain.”