Government set to extend 'cabotage' rights as supply chain crisis continues

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government set to extend 'cabotage' rights as supply chain crisis continues

Related tags: Supply chain

The Government has announced a consultation to temporarily amend so-called 'cabotage' rights in another bid to try and alleviate the pressures of Britain’s ongoing supply chain crisis.

'Cabotage' rules govern how many trips foreign transport firms can make within another country.

Currently, hauliers from the EU can only pick up and drop off goods in the UK twice in a seven-day period, but the proposals would allow them to make an unlimited number of deliveries across two weeks.

Subject to a one-week consultation, the temporary measures would come into force towards the end of this year for up to six months.

"The long-term answer to the supply chain issues we’re currently experiencing must be developing a high-skill, high-wage economy here in the UK," says Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary.

"Alongside a raft of other measures to help the road haulage industry, we’ve streamlined the testing process and announced thousands of skills boot camps to train new drivers. These measures are working – we’ve been seeing up to 3 times more applications for HGV driving licences than normal as well as a deserved rise in salaries.

"The temporary changes we’re consulting on to cabotage rules will also make sure foreign hauliers in the UK can use their time effectively and get more goods moving in the supply chain at a time of high demand."

A shortage of lorry drivers in the UK caused by the effects of Brexit, the pandemic and other factors, has had a severe impact on the hospitality sector of late.

Last month, data from CGA and Fourth revealed that 99% of hospitality businesses have experienced supply chain issues​, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) facing reduced product lines.

More than four in five have seen deliveries of products delayed (82%) or failing to turn up completely (84%).

The Government has already brought forward plans to issue more than 10,000 short-term visas to foreign lorry drivers and food industry workers, but business leaders dismissed this​ at the time as not being enough to solve the crisis.

Alongside the amendments to 'cabotage' rights, the Government has also announced a package of measures to support the pig industry which has faced a number of challenges in recent months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary suspension of approval to export to China for some UK pork establishments, all of which have led to a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter. 

As well as working with industry to introduce processing of animals on Saturdays and longer working days where possible, the Government says it will fund a private storage aid scheme in England that will enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three to six months so that they can be preserved safely and processed at a later date.

A 'pork levy holiday' will also be introduced in England and Scotland, suspending payments of the tax pig farmers and producers are required to pay for November 2021; and until 31 December, up to 800 pork butchers will be eligible to apply for visas from the existing allocation in the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme, allowing them to travel and work in the UK for a period of six months.

Once again reiterating its mantra that temporary visas 'are not a long term solution and businesses must make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce', the Government says it expects the pork sector to encourage better training offers, career options and wage increases to ensure that the sector draws on the large domestic labour pool in the UK, as well as investing in technology across the industry.

"A unique range of pressures on the pig sector over recent months such as the impacts of the pandemic and its effect on export markets have led to the temporary package of measures we are announcing today," says George Eustice, Environment Secretary.

"This is the result of close working with industry to understand how we can support them through this challenging time."

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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