THE ROAD Haulage Association shares National Audit Office fears that measures to prepare the UK border for Brexit won’t be ready for a no-deal scenario.
The recent NAO report states that government faces ‘a race against time’ to get ready for Brexit, believing ‘that businesses do not have enough time to make the changes needed’ for no deal in March 2019 and warns ‘that the most complex issues relating to the movement of goods at the border still need to be resolved.’
Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘With less than five months until the Brexit deadline becomes reality, we are still in the dark regarding the essential details.
To maintain the supply chain between the UK, across the Irish border and mainland Europe, it is imperative that businesses can plan. This has not happened.
‘The border is not ready and plans to make Kent motorways into, what are in effect glorified lorry parks are simply not enough. And government’s claim that any increase in the number of checks will be kept to a minimum fills us with no confidence at all.’
Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s Head of European Policy, commented: ‘The current state of uncertainty leaves the logistics sector in limbo, as our members are forced to plan for an uncertain future. They face two choices: invest in and implement contingency plans that might not be needed if an agreement is reached, or take no action and risk being unprepared in the event of a No Deal exit. FTA advises all companies to begin preparing for the worst case scenario.’
And United Kingdom Warehousing Association CEO, Peter Ward, has expressed the Association’s disappointment
and frustration that the government seems not to have recognised the critical labour shortage facing the warehousing and logistics industry; a sector that depends on immigrant labour, particularly at peak times.
‘It is vital that the government understands the need for low level, low skilled workers. Work permits for level 5 educated employees on salaries over £30k will simply not help our sector.’
UKWA has repeatedly highlighted the impact of the so-called ‘Brexodus’ of Eastern European migrants leaving the UK since the Brexit vote.
Interestingly though, in a logistics update, launched by the Freight Transport Association in partnership with Santander, which polled the opinions of more than 370 freight and logistics
businesses the future looks positive with a predicted 1.5% growth in GDP in 2019, and three quarters of logistics companies are confident their business will grow over the next three years.
However, in the event of a no-deal exit, logistics businesses are most concerned about the potential impact on infrastructure plans, labour shortages and border delays.