The “autumn storm” is closing in on the British economy: business confidence plummeted in September due to the serious “supply crisis” that has caused endless queues at gas stations and threatens to spread to all sectors, from transport to food, through education, health, care, hospitality and restoration.
The situation of The shortage of staff (caused mainly by the lack of immigrants from the EU due to Brexit and the pandemic) is so desperate that Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has left the door open to the use of inmates as a “paid workforce”. Raab himself has also been willing to consider allowing the 70,000 applicants pending their asylum application in the UK can work temporarily in the country.
The growing problems due to the lack of workers, the increase in costs, the energy crisis, disruptions in supply chains and the increase in Social Security contributions have caused the every sudden business confidence index from 22 points to minus 1 Throughout the rugged month of September, according to data from the Institute of Directors (IoD).
“The business climate has deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks,” he argued. Kitty Ussher, IoD Chief Economist. “After a period of optimism before the summer, the people in charge of small and medium companies have much less certainty about the economic situation of the country.”
Despite the economic growth of 5.5% in the second quarter of the year, the pessimism of businessmen returns to the level it was last February, in the middle of the third confinement of the Covid. The program of aid to companies during the pandemic – with which the Government supported the maintenance of 12 million jobs– has come to an end at a critical moment and has triggered fears of rising unemployment in a scenario of high inflation.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that “all sectors” will be affected by the economic clouds and has warned that businessmen have gone from “the mentality of growth and investment to that of crisis management.” Craig Beaumont, Head of External Relations for the Small Business Federation, has coined the term “autumn storm” in statements to the Financial times, with the images of the queues in front of the gas stations as a backdrop.
The gas station crisis – caused by an estimated shortage of up to 50,000 truckers fuel delivery – entered its second week on Friday with relative signs of improvement. The large multinationals (BP, Shell and Esso) issued a statement in the last hours expressing their confidence that “the situation will stabilize in the next few days” (although it may take another week to return to normal).
Meanwhile, some 150 soldiers have been trained and they continue in the rear in case their intervention is necessary, at the controls of delivery trucks, to solve the supply crisis in the coming days. The Petroleum Sellers Association (PRA), which groups together independent gas stations, has warned that 48% of its stations continue to have supply problems diesel or unleaded gasoline.
The gas station crisis has affected the country unevenly. While Scotland and Northern Ireland have weathered the storm, problems have worsened especially in the south of England and particularly in London. “Contrary to what the Prime Minister has said, the situation has not improved and between 25% and 30% of our fleet has not been able to work this week, “he declared to the BBC Steve McNamara, secretary of the Taxi Drivers Association in the British capital.
Boris Johnson has been conspicuous by his absence for much of the gas station crisis. The “premier”, who next week faces the acid test of the Conservative Party conference, intervened in the middle of the week claiming that the situation was “stabilizing” and calling for calm from motorists, while understanding their “frustration”.
The lOpposition Labor leader Keir Starmer has accused Johnson of “driving the country into chaos as we go from crisis to crisis.”. Starmer this week accused the Conservative leader of ending Brexit “without a plan to make Bexit work.”
According to estimates of Ipsos Mori, the flow of immigrants from the EU to the UK has gone from 60% of the total in 2019 to 29% in June 2021. At that time, the number of immigrants who applied to register with Social Security was 270,000, less than half than the previous year.
By sectors, the most affected by the lack of personnel is transportation, followed by administrative positions, education, culture, hospitality, food and health. More than 75% of British considers that the Government should allow the hiring of immigrants for key sectors such as health and social care. More than 60% are in favor of easing the restrictions of the new meritorious system by points to the Australian, imposed after Brexit, to allow the entry of seasonal workers or to fill vacancies in sectors with a lack of staff.
In an interview on the portal Conservative Home, the secretary for Kwasi Kwarteng Companies He admitted that problems like lack of supply at gas stations “are part of the transition to the new post-Brexit economy.” Kwarteng warned that “the low-wage, high-immigration model” was defeated in the 2016 EU referendum, although he acknowledged that there are pressures from various sectors (from transport to agriculture) to go back to “the old days” with the issuance of thousands of work visas.
In a desperate attempt to mitigate the supply crisis, the UK Department of Transport has sent a million letters to licensees of truck driving licenses, although most have no experience in driving heavy vehicles. Among the recipients of the letter are thousands of Germans residing in the United Kingdom.
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