Politics

Send In The Army: Lib Dems Want Troops To Help Avoid Christmas Food Shortage

The Government has been criticised for exacerbating worker shortages by introducing a new immigration system during a pandemic.

The Army should be sent in to deliver food to supermarkets, the Liberal Democrats have said, as food shortage fears grow.

The party blamed the Government's new immigration system for making it difficult to recruit enough key workers from overseas.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: "The Government is ignoring a crisis happening across the country.

"If they don’t act now, we could be in for a Christmas of chaos.

"We're at the point now where we need to mobilise the Army to get food onto our supermarket shelves, showing that the Government has failed and left us all facing a bitter winter of discontent."

Mr Carmichael blamed Home Secretary Priti Patel for "disastrous new immigration rules that are harming Britain".

He added: "She must listen to British businesses, rather than hinder them, and enable them to hire the lorry drivers and other workers we so desperately need."

Anonymous British Army personnel CREDIT BFBS
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Army to be mobilised "to get food onto our supermarket shelves".

It comes after the Road Haulage Association warned the country is short of 100,000 HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said worker shortages could last up to two years.

In July, Premier Foods, one of Britain's biggest food companies, also called on the Government to consider using the Army to distribute goods while there is a severe shortage of truck drivers.

Haulage companies are already seeking out ex-military drivers in a bid to fill the gaps.

Recruitment network ExForces has seen advertisements for drivers increase sixfold.

Director Simon Osborne said: "Employers see drivers coming out of military logistics as a real strength.

"We've seen vacancies up by five or six times in the past six months.

"However, the pay and conditions can be so dire, that qualified drivers coming out of the military are looking for different kinds of jobs."

The Government's Response 

A Government spokesperson said: "The recent pandemic has proven that the UK has a large, diverse and highly resilient food supply chain that has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

"We are working closely with the haulage industry to understand and address recent pressures."

"There is no suggestion of using military support at this time and no requests have been made."

The Government said it had confirmed apprenticeship funding for aspiring lorry drivers, while also increasing the number of testing slots available for HGV drivers.