Freight News, Logistics, Road

Brexit is threat to UK supply chain, says FTA

[ February 24, 2020   //   ]

Lack of attention to detail could have a devastating effect on the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain and hamper future productivity and the economy, warnings Freight Transport Association policy director Elizabeth de Jong in its new policy blueprint, ‘Keeping the UK and the EU Trading’.

“While the UK is setting out its parameters for the future relationship with the EU in Brussels, it is vital that the needs of the logistics industry are front and centre of any conversations,” she says.  “UK PLC is reliant upon a highly complex, interconnected supply chain, and if the needs of those responsible for moving goods and services to support the country’s economy are not prioritised, the effects could be devastating for the supply of vital products to shops, schools, hospitals and manufacturing.  Delays to deliveries could well cause out of stock issues and shut down factories operating “just in time” production.  The logistics industry needs to be engaged from the start.”

Risk of disruption at the borders must be mitigated to ensure that businesses can continue to operate efficiently and effectively,” she continues.  “It costs more than £1 a minute to operate an HGV as lengthy delays could add significant costs to the price of goods and fuel inflation.

FTA is pressing negotiators for a number of simplifications and to reduce the need for physical checks while any that are required should take place away from the border.

Also: “Logistics needs to know now what procedures and processes will be used to cross borders, to have time to test and feedback on proposals, and then time to install and train staff. The detail our members need is not available. Complex new systems cannot be delivered overnight without interruptions to the existing supply chain, even with the best will in the world.

“There is a substantial customs agent shortage and member states and the UK government need to urgently address this by giving support, guidance and funding.  Sufficient co-funded training should be provided for those new to completing customs declarations, as well as for those handling a significant increase in declarations and other new administrative requirements.”

FTA is also calling for logistics workers to be excluded from the government’s restrictive post-Brexit immigration policy, announced on19 February. It says the sector is already suffering from a severe labour shortage and the loss of these workers could make business grind to a halt.

Head of skills policy, Sally Gilson, Hsaid the Prime Minister should econsider his post-Brexit immigration policy immediately: “The UK economy simply cannot operate without the logistics workforce. The sector is already facing a severe labour shortage – 64% of transport and storage businesses are now struggling to fill vacancies – and with EU workers currently constituting 13% of the entire logistics workforce, it is obvious how detrimental this policy will be.”

According to FTA’s Logistics Skills Report 2019, declining EU net migration has contributed to a 43% rise in job vacancies in the transport and storage industry over the past couple of years.