Experts say that if buyers want to avoid disappointment, they should buy Christmas dinner in advance and keep it in the freezer.
He also warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to end supply chain chaos had little hope of working.
In response to mounting pressure, the government last weekend softened its tough line on immigration, allowing 5,500 poultry workers and 5,000 lorry drivers to enter the UK on three-month work visas expiring on 24 December. announced plans.
The government hoped an army of workers brought in from overseas would “save Christmas” but food and transportation industry leaders poured cold water on the plans.
“Finally, now I think we’ve run out of time,” said James Withers of Scotland Food & Drink. “I don’t think there is anything that can be done now to get the Christmas business where it should be.”
“This is despite warnings since the summer of the scale of potential labor shortages we may be facing.”
Mr Withers recommended that people should “plan ahead” and think early about food that can be frozen to avoid disappointment later.
The British Retail Consortium warned that 5,000 lorry driver visas would not be enough to prevent disruption at Christmas. A haulage industry boss said retailers should now start prioritizing delivery of essential goods over Christmas gifts as there will not be enough lorry drivers to cope with the demand.
A retail industry insider said he believes the government has now accepted that supply disruptions will continue, but ministers think it is “a price worth paying for Brexit”.
immigration lawyers told Granthshala They are not confident that applications can be processed in a timely manner to ensure shelves remain stocked.
Retailers warned last week that they need workers within 10 days to ensure normal levels of stock over Christmas, while poultry companies have said a shortage of production line workers could cut turkey supplies. Is. And meat industry leaders have also now warned about a shortage of butchered pigs in blankets.
Yet solicitors pointed out that temporary work visas typically take “at least” three weeks to be processed and can take around seven weeks for non-EU applicants. The Home Office expects the scheme to be rolled out in mid-October and applications will be processed in 15 working days.
The first applicants are therefore unlikely to work until the second week of November, meaning drivers would be expected to transfer to the UK for just six weeks of work before being asked to leave on Christmas Eve.
Immigration experts also sounded the alarm over the lack of capacity to deal with the influx of applications.
The Home Office approved 19,761 temporary work visas last year. If the full 10,500 quota for Christmas staff is filled, civil servants will forgo an additional 50 percent of their previous annual total in a matter of weeks.
No details have yet been confirmed about how the new scheme will operate, leaving employers speculating. Granthshala understands that the new arrangement will be based on seasonal work visas – known as Tier 5 – typically used for agricultural workers.
European Union lorry drivers have said they find the prospect of working just a few weeks in the UK unattractive. Tight deadlines for visas have cast further doubts on the effectiveness of a key part of the government’s response to the labor shortage, which has left petrol pumps and supermarket shelves empty.
Jemima Johnstone, head of corporate immigration at Gherson solicitors, questioned whether the Home Office has the necessary resources to process thousands of additional visas.
Ms Johnstone said government guidance has been “vague” and some three-month visas could arrive shortly before Christmas Eve.
“We are not sure whether the visa is due to expire on December 24 or whether it is the application deadline.
“Certainly for the poultry workers this is a pre-Christmas issue so there is no point in applying late. It has to start soon enough to have any chance of delivering whatever we need. “
Non-EU applicants face another hurdle as they have to attend an interview with officials in their home country, often waiting weeks to get an appointment.
Home Office plans to increase the use of an app that speeds up the process but is not yet available to temporary workers.
It is also feared that the £244 visa fee may discourage some potential applications. When added to the cost of relocating to the UK, this would represent a significant proportion of the potential salary of a poultry production line worker between now and Christmas Eve.
Ms Johnstone warned of further problems if other industries push for their own temporary visa quotas.
“If each industry gets its own special visa, but only when it can convince the government that it is in a state of crisis, what we are planning is not a long-term solution to the labor shortage.
“It’s a series of crises – and very public ones, because whoever says the biggest crisis gets the biggest visa allocation.”
Youngs Transportation director Rob Holliman described the visa scheme as “pathetic”. He warned that this would make “very little difference” to Christmas stock levels because, at best, it could replace only a quarter of the 20,000 drivers who have left the UK and have not returned.
“Someone in the supply chain needs to decide whether we either have luxuries and Christmas gifts, or are essential.
Before we have cuddly toys and puzzles, we need to get the essentials like washing powder, toilet roll.
Mr Withers said the government had ignored for at least a year the increasingly desperate calls from food industry figures for action to stop labor shortages in the wake of Brexit.
“We’re already seeing gaps on supermarket shelves. I don’t think those gaps will improve. They could get worse.”
He said the government’s announcement on temporary visas did not in any way reduce the possibility of short supply.
“We need an immigration policy that is smart, it is not about rhetoric and it is certainly not about being…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /