Government offers temporary visas to pig butchers and lifts rules on foreign lorry driver deliveries
The government has launched a consultation today on proposals to temporarily extend ‘cabotage' rights, allowing foreign drivers to make unlimited journeys to pick up and drop off goods for two weeks before returning home.
Currently hauliers from the European Union can only make up to two ‘cabotage' trips within seven days.
Subject to a one-week consultation, the temporary measures would come into force towards the end of this year for up to six months as the government seeks to address supply chain disruption and the shortage of HGV drivers.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "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.
"Alongside a raft of other measures to help the road haulage industry, we've streamlined the testing process and announced thousands of skills bootcamps to train new drivers. These measures are working – we've been seeing up to three 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."
The government has also announced measures to support the pig industry, which has seen the temporary suspension of approval to export to China and a backlog of pigs awaiting slaughter.
As well as allowing the processing of animals on Saturdays and longer working days where possible, the government has said it will fund a private storage scheme in England which will enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three to six months so that they can be preserved safely and processed later.
In England and Scotland, a £1m ‘pork levy holiday' has also been announced, suspending payments of the levy pig farmers and producers are required to pay for November 2021. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) took the decision in response to the continued build-up of pigs on farm, falling prices and high production costs.
Meanwhile, 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 six months.
The government reiterated that temporary visas were "not a long-term solution" and businesses must "make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce to build a high-wage, high-skill economy, instead of relying on overseas labour". However, the government has been forced to offer temporary visas across several sectors in recent months in an attempt to stabilise post-pandemic, post-Brexit supply chain disruption.
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