Labour has urged prime minister Boris Johnson to create a fresh ministerial post to handle the intensifying supply chain crisis.
Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, accused the government of “falling asleep at the wheel” over mounting problems of scarcity of materials prompting many sectors of the UK economy to snarl up.
The minister would oversee a cross-departmental response to the crisis impacting firms and consumers.
Large swathes of the UK economy are struggling to deliver normal services due to severe shortages of stock and raw materials as a result of intense supply chain disruption.
A lack of HGV drivers, caused by stricter immigration rules after Brexit and high levels of EU nationals leaving the UK since the onset of Covid, has led to delivery times lengthening or being cancelled altogether.
Road haulage chiefs estimate there is around 100,000 deficit of HGV drivers in Britain. Ministers have refused to temporarily relax immigration rules for the road haulage sector.
Speaking to The i, Miliband said: “The Government must get a grip on the supply chain crisis facing our economy. While they act as if the problem will solve itself, businesses are telling Government these problems are only going to grow.”
“The long-term problems in the HGV sector will not be solved by making drivers work longer hours but by training workers and improving their terms and conditions.
“What we are seeing across our economy should be a wake-up call to Government that insecurity and low pay cannot build the high performing economy we need.
Data from the Confederation of British Industry shows retailers’ stock levels have plunged to the lowest level since the 1980s.
High street retailers and fast food chains have stopped offering normal services due to a scarcity of materials. McDonald’s has stopped serving milkshakes in England, Scotland and Wales, while Greggs has warned it is dealing with a shortage of chicken bites.