The Great Debate – Food, energy and fuel: is Britain empty? | UK News
It is not known exactly how long the fuel shortages will last.
Many large retailers say deliveries are continuing, and a joint statement from Shell and ExxonMobile reiterated the pressures were caused by “temporary spikes in customer demand, not a nationwide fuel shortage.”
If people continue to panic buying, shortages in some places could drag on.
However, AA President Edmund King said on Saturday he believed the shortages would not last long.
“The good news is you can really only refuel once – you have to use the fuel, so that should be a short-term thing,” he told the BBC.
“So once people have fueled up, they won’t be traveling more than they normally travel, so that pressure on the system should ease over the next few days.”
In an attempt to alleviate the problem and get the fuel where it needs to be, the government said on Sunday it was suspending competition laws.
This will allow the fuel industry to share information and target the service stations that need it most.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the promulgation of the Downstream Petroleum Protocol “would ensure that the industry can share vital information and work together more effectively.”
The government is also considering using the military to help deliver fuel.
The global trucker crisis – a problem shared by several other European countries – also does not appear to be resolved anytime soon, meaning shortages of some products are expected to persist.
The 100,000 shortfall is huge and the backlog of canceled tests during COVID will take months to resolve.
Plans to speed up the process of obtaining a heavy truck license can help in the longer term.
The government has announced its intention to speed up the heavy-duty testing process to allow 50,000 additional tests per year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News it should make a significant difference.
“There are a lot of other tests out there now, so we should see things move pretty quickly,” he said.
But business leaders say the government’s decision to temporarily allow 5,000 more drivers in the UK for the Christmas rush “will not be enough”.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the measures “will do little to address the current deficit”.
“Supermarkets alone estimated that they needed at least 15,000 truck drivers to keep their businesses running at full capacity before Christmas and avoid disruption or uptime issues. “
British Chambers of Commerce President Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith also said the program was “insufficient”
And what about CO2 shortages that also threaten the supply of items such as poultry and pork – is it just a temporary accident?
The government’s agreement to cover the energy costs of CF Industries – which produces around 60% of the UK’s supply – is only valid for three weeks.
This means that one of its two sites – in Billingham on Teesside – is back up and running.
The business and energy department said the deal provides “limited financial support … as the CO2 market adjusts to global gas prices.”
But if prices remain high, it is not clear whether government support will continue.
Energy regulator Ofgem said the high prices might not be temporary, and Small Business Minister Paul Scully told Sky News he was bracing for a “worst case scenario”.
Also on the food supply front, 5,000 additional poultry workers will be allowed to enter the UK over the coming months to fill vacancies.
How far this will go to keep shelves stocked as demand increases ahead of Christmas remains to be seen.