Brexit is something that could potentially cripple the food supplies available in Britain as the supply chains would be crippled by customs problems. The RHA, or Road Haulage Association, is issuing stern warnings that unless Britain’s government authorities negotiate appropriate custom controls in the upcoming Brexit talks, then there could be dire repercussions for the sensitive food supply that the UK has. As of the time of writing, there is already a rationing of things like vegetables and that illustrates the dangers possible. The current supply of groceries like lettuce might just be the first bands of a much larger future storm.
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Wrong System Could Slow Down or Even Stop the Food Coming into the Nation
The chief executive of the RHA is Richard Burnett. He claims that almost a third of all food consumed within the United Kingdom comes to Britain from the EU members on the continent, and it primarily comes via lorries. As of right now, the transportation process is very seamless. Someone can just as easily drive from Milan to Leeds as they would from Leeds to Manchester, at least in terms of customs processes. That’s not going to be the case after Brexit anymore. It is necessary for the new processes to be right, otherwise wrong system could slow down or even stop the food coming into the nation.
A specific fear of the RHA is long lines of lorries backing up at ports which winds up overwhelming the available staff, meaning that fresh food supplies start rotting. Training providers like Surrey and Hampshire HGV Training continuous to maintain rigorous training to professional drivers to assure all heavy good transfers are timely and well ordered. Now, it is up to the HMRC to ensure professional drivers can continue to provide timely and well ordered service.
Burnett has been further quoted as saying that he’s not reassured at all by recent statements from the government. He argues that HM Revenue & Customs, or HMRC, needs to have appropriate resources to deal with getting the new work of food supplies crossing borders done efficiently.
He went on to add that the RHA hopes that the government is serious about its stated commitment to friction-less cross-border trade. However, he points out that existing customs processes for air freight and containers aren’t going to work out for millions of lorries that come through ports and Dover. Annually, nearly 5 million such truck trips happen between the UK and the continent, and for now, they’re HMRC-free. Those trucks impact the transportation of products, components and nearly a third of the nation’s food supply, not to mention many jobs.
The RHA does have official views on its website regarding this issue, and another organisation has also put out its official positions. The Freight Transport Association, or FTA, released its spring budget submission and in it called out a few things the government should do:
1) Make sure that all Brexit negotiations upgrade the economy of the UK by reducing the burdens businesses face in moving their goods around the world.
2) Stimulate the growth of the UK economy and protect current economic development by lowering road fuel duty by an amount of 3 pence per litre, reinstating the previous duty differential for any used cooking oil re-purposed as commercial bio fuel and by endorsing efforts made to meet local air quality goals across the UK.
3) Assist industry in handling the current shortage of skills by making sure that both the Apprenticeship Levy and its training funding provided have the flexibility to meet the needs of businesses, and also be establishing a framework of policy backed by enough funding to support the creation of new or upgraded roadside facilities for industry drivers.