Ministers are bracing for the ‘EFFing crisis’ of energy chaos, fuel shortages and empty food shelves to last for months as they admitted lengthy queues at petrol stations are likely to continue for at least another week.
Government insiders are said to have given the ongoing nationwide disruption the ‘EFFing’ label in reference to problems in the energy, fuel and food sectors.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said this morning that the fuel situation should be resolved in a ‘week or so’. Mr Malthouse said there needs to be an ‘improvement’ in the situation in the coming days and that Boris Johnson stands ready to review matters if there is any deterioration.
But even if the fuel debacle is resolved, ministers expect problems in other areas to continue in the months ahead. A massive increase in the wholesale cost of gas has prompted a handful of energy firms to collapse, with consumers facing skyrocketing bills this winter.
A huge shortfall in HGV driver numbers is already hitting supply chains, with empty shelves in some supermarkets, as industry chiefs predict there will be further food and potentially even toy shortages this Christmas. A shortage of food processing workers and butchers is adding to the disruption, with farmers warning they are running out of room because of growing animal numbers and they could soon be forced to start a ‘mass cull’.
Business leaders have called on the Government to issue visas to allow foreign workers to come to the UK to plug the gaps in the workforce.
Ministers have announced 5,000 temporary visas for HGV drivers amid an estimated shortage of 100,000 but the Government is resisting pressure to go further, insisting that UK firms should focus on training British workers to do the jobs.