Turkeys, toys and truckers- the plan to save Christmas

Turkeys, toys and truckers- the plan to save Christmas

As you will have seen in the press recently, there is currently a severe shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.  As the nation approaches Christmas when the demand for deliveries sky-rockets, there is a real concern that the available number of drivers just simply isn’t enough.  What’s more there’s also a shortage of butchers and poultry workers which only adds to the potential difficulties over the Christmas period.

Whilst in the past there have been chaotic scenes in shops with parents fighting over that years must have toy, there is the increasing possibility that this year could see a clamor just to get a turkey on the table.

In response to this crisis, the UK Government has launched a temporary scheme which began on 11 October 2021 to allow up to 5,500 poultry workers and 4,700 HGV food drivers to enter the UK to work.

Initial uptake of the scheme relating to HGV food drivers appears to have been limited and it was announced on 14th October that Ministers are now consulting on further changes to allow EU drivers to make additional deliveries whilst in the UK.  At present, under the cabotage rules, if a driver from outwith the UK delivers goods to the UK, they are permitted to make 2 further collections and deliveries internally within the UK within 7 days of entry.  The proposed changes which would last for either 3 or 6 months and allow drivers entering from outwith the UK to make an unlimited number of further deliveries over a 14 day period.  The proposals would apply to both food and goods unlike other schemes which have been limited to specific types of deliveries.  It does not however, apply to HGV fuel tanker drivers.

The difficulty with the proposals is one of timing.  It is currently anticipated that this scheme may not be in place until near the end of the year which will likely be after the time at which are shops are the busiest.  Much like the situation with HGV fuel tanker drivers we have previously discussed, {insert link to other blog?} whilst the scheme may be politically expedient, in reality it may again be a case of too little, too late.

In terms of the existing schemes for poultry workers and HGV Food drivers, there is still further time left. The Government have appointed 4 scheme operators who themselves recruit the poultry workers and HGV food drivers.  It is for the employers to directly contact the operators to request the necessary staff.

In respect of poultry workers, employers requiring such staff require to make applications by 15 November 2021 and all temporary visas for such poultry workers will expire on 31 December 2021.

For HGV food drivers, prospective employers must apply for these members of staff by 1 December 2021 and the temporary visas will come to an end on 28 February 2022.  It should be noted that in relation to the HGV drivers, it is only in respect of food delivery.  This particular scheme does not include HGV fuel tanker drivers nor any other goods which are not foodstuffs.

These schemes and those in the consultation do have the ability to help alleviate the problems with deliveries around the festive period however, the time scales involved may make them of limited use.  However, there is still time left and employers should do all they can to make full use of these options.  It is also still quite possible that further proposals will come from the UK government in the coming days.  Consumers however, should consider these issues and be prepared for the fact that the shops may look very different this year to how they have in the past.

Should you require any further information regarding the schemes or their operation, please contact our Iain Grant by email: igrant@gilsongray.co.uk or by phone: 0131 516 5375 / 07487 801 131. You can also view Iain’s profile by clicking

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