Lamenting the national lorry driver shortage, Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson has called on the Home Office to shape up its immigration rules to allow overseas hauliers into the UK.
The trickling supply of HGV drivers has led to 94 per cent of hospitality businesses reporting problems with the delivery of products, according to trade body UKHospitality – with McDonald’s, Nandos and the maker of Irn-Bru all experiencing issues.
“It strikes me as being insane that despite the fact that everyone knows that we desperately need drivers, the Home Office is still preventing people coming to this country to work as drivers,” Wolfson told LBC.
“We need to look at the policies that we have going forward, to make sure that the people who want to work in Britain and have the skills that we need, can get here.”
The UK’s business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, however, rejected calls to loosen immigration rules to fix the problem last week.
The Next boss, who has been chief executive for the past 20 years, seemed sure the product issues had not stemmed from Brexit but instead a backlog of goods emerging from the pandemic’s supply chain troubles.
“There’s a huge amount of goods to move in the wake of the pandemic and that has led to a natural squeeze on the numbers of drivers that are there,” he explained.
However, Wolfson added that he was unsure the Home Office is running the UK’s immigration as well as it should be amid the shortage.
“I personally don’t think that’s a problem with Brexit, I think it’s a problem with the way in which our immigration system is being run.
“There’s an enormous difference between having control over your immigration system – which I think we should have – and running that system well, which I’m not sure that we are.”