According to a statement issued by the Department for Transport over the weekend, 5,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers will be able to come to work in the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas to provide “short-term relief for the haulage industry”.
Some 5,500 poultry workers will also be added to the visa scheme to “avoid any potential further pressures on the food industry during this exceptional period.
The UK government said recruitment for additional short-term truck drivers and poultry workers will begin in October with visas valid until December 24, Christmas eve.
According to reports, the shortage of truck drivers in the UK has been exacerbated by the pandemic, an ageing workforce, poor working conditions, and post-Brexit immigration policy.
Grant Shapps, UK transport secretary, said the visa scheme would ease the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s haulage and food industry.
“This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV (heavy goods vehicle) driver shortage,” Shapps said.
“We are acting now, but the industries must also play their part with working conditions continuing to improve, and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained for companies to retain new drivers.
“After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”