Finance

Business group ‘disappointed’ as driver shortage plea rejected

A leading North East business group has said it is “very disappointed” after the Government rejected suggestions on tackling staff shortages in the region’s economy.

The North East England Chamber of Commerce that has called for more flexibility in allowing foreign workers to fill vacancies in key areas.

But the Government has said that “investment and development of the UK’s domestic labour force should take priority, rather than seeing migrant labour as the solution to recruitment difficulties.”

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The Chamber raised the issue with Ministers after seeing a number of businesses in the region struggling to fill vacancies as a result of Brexit and the pandemic. One Chamber members has had to reject a number of orders as it cannot guarantee its goods would be transported on time.

It says the issue is affecting a range of sectors, including hospitality and leisure, road haulage and food processing.

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser at the Chamber, said: “We are very disappointed that Government has refused to consider our constructive suggestions such as creating a temporary route for unskilled roles critically needed to meet economic or social priorities such as care workers or lorry drivers. Businesses urgently need changes so they can recover from covid-19, meet consumer need and expand and grow.”

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser, North East England Chamber of Commerce

Ms Corcoran said that the widely-publicised shortage of HGV drivers is adding to Brexit-related difficulties for exporting companies in the North East.

She added: “The crisis will only deepen as we approach Christmas and demand for fully stocked shelves, bookings for Christmas parties in bars/cafes grow and the social care impacts of Covid begin to emerge.

“We will continue to push Government to tackle this urgent issue.”

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