Pallet-Track chief executive Caroline Green has urged the government to reverse its decision to block emergency work visas for EU labour, claiming a quick solution is needed to the driver shortage.

Responding to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s call for businesses to prioritise hiring UK-based workers rather than relying on labour from abroad to fix the problem, she said: “This is a long-term goal and what we need now is a short-term fix.

“We do need to hire more UK drivers but it takes six to nine months to hire and train them, plus we have had to contend with a huge backlog of tests.

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“We are seeing the impact the driver shortage is having on the supply chain in the here and now, with even big brands such as McDonalds and Nando’s struggling to stock staple items.

“We appreciate the industry needs to address the underlying issues around attracting, testing, training and retaining drivers and we are relying on the forward-thinking actions of our network members to help address this. But more immediate government measures are needed right now to support UK supply chains.

“We saw 14,000 EU lorry drivers leave jobs in the UK in the year to June 2020, but only 600 returned by July 2021. The UK government changing its stance on visas for HGV drivers is just one way we could potentially tempt some drivers back to work here.”