Alcohol firms warn Transport Secretary of Christmas shortage

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Members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association have warned the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, that HGV driver shortages and freight disruption would interfere with the UK supermarkets’ alcohol supply this Christmas.

This comes after the food and drink industry have called on ministers to introduce a short-term visa scheme in September, which is due to expire on February 28 2022.

Around 48 of UK’s wine and spirit firms have signed the letter written by the WTSA last week, as wine and spirit deliveries have been delayed by supply chain chaos and rising costs.

Reports from WTSA have revealed importing products takes up to five times longer than a year ago, with two to three day shipments taking up to 15 days to process.

READ MORE: Transport secretary ‘asleep at the wheel’ during HGV crisis

Additionally, the rise of incentivised HGV driver salaries have allowed a seven per cent increase in freight costs and struggles between small businesses and larger competition.

The WSTA and its members penned a list of urgent appeals to the government to prevent further delivery chaos and to save British businesses.

The letter to Shapps stated: “Extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers from 28 February 2022 to a minimum of one year, to ease the burden on industry and allow for a sufficient increase of domestic drivers.”

In addition the WTSA called on better routing of freight from ports and regular updates on DLVA processing HGV driving tests and licenses.

WTSA chief executive officer Miles Beales said: “There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.

“We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.”

Beales added: “Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond.”

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