Brexit expert calls on government to ‘get a handle’ on supply chain crisis

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Government “needs to get a handle” on the supply chain crisis now to avoid empty shelves during Christmas, the chair of a cross-party commission created to scrutinise the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals warned on Thursday (2).

Aodhán Connolly, who chaired an extraordinary session of the UK Trade and Business Commission- a group of cross-party MPs and business representatives set up as an independent adviser to the government in April- said that “red tape and labour shortages from Brexit have exacerbated problems that are being acutely felt across production, processing, manufacturing, retail and of course logistics”.

“The government needs to get a handle on this both in the short and long term and we will be making recommendations based on the evidence we heard today,” Connolly said, as per media reports.

In recent days supply crunch has been felt across the country with restaurant chains McDonald’s and Nando’s reporting disruption to their supplies.

Business lobbies, including food, retail and logistics representatives have been calling on the government to tackle the issue, saying that the supply chain difficulties are expected to last until the end of the year, and warned they could get worse when post-Brexit checks on goods coming from the EU are introduced from October.

“We are actually facing what I can only describe as a perfect storm,” said Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, which represents members across the cold supply chain. “Members who would normally be laying stock down now for Christmas say they don’t have the resource to do it.”

The British Retail Consortium warned retailers are beginning to pass on increased costs to consumers. Its director of food and sustainability Andre Opie told the commission food prices rose slightly last month.

Meanwhile,  from Oct 1 imports containing animal products and food considered high risk, such as sausages, will require health certificates and pre-notification of shipment. While these changes are largely electronic, the real crunch is expected net year when customs officers will begin making physical checks on goods arriving at British ports from the EU, reports said.