Your analysis of the causes of the supply chain crisis is helpful from a factual perspective, but misses the point (Is Brexit or Covid to blame for Britain’s supply chain crisis?, 24 September). The cause matters not; both have happened on this government’s watch and therefore it is their role to minimise the impact of both, especially on those least able to cope with the consequences. So let’s conflate the two into Coxit, as in “Boris Coxit up”.
Shortage of petrol delivery drivers. Shortage of GPs. Shortage of turkeys for Christmas. Quite obviously it is the government’s fault, but what’s the root cause? The solutions are quite simple. Pay HGV drivers a better wage and give them better working conditions. Train and employ more GPs to give them more time with each patient. That means us paying more for goods and services. It means us paying more in taxes. But that is the last thing any supermarket or any government wants to tell us. So whose fault is it?
Grant Shapps may be urging people to “be sensible” (Report, 26 September) by not panic buying fuel, but stockpiling fuel when there are warnings about petrol pumps running dry is a perfectly sensible response. The problem of perceived scarcity leading to a vicious circle of panic buying and real scarcity, which then induces even more panic buying, is familiar to anyone with knowledge of the history of famines. Most infamously the Bengal famine of 1943 in colonial India was not caused by an actual shortage of food but rather an increase in demand, which eventually led to the unnecessary deaths of more than two million people. The fact that this famine took place under a Tory government is no coincidence.
Associate professor, department of international development, London School of Economics
It was Grant Shapps who warned the public to avoid panic buying. So, as ever, the public panic bought. Then Shapps was able to blame the public for panic buying. Job done. Government not to blame.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Food shortages. Imminent power cuts. Petrol rationing. Price rises and inflation. Profligate wasting of vast sums of taxpayers’ money. Government bungling and ministerial incompetence on a daily basis. Another “winter of discontent”. Didn’t the Tories warn us, in 2019, that these would be the dire consequence of electing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party?
My wife, who has a gift for lateral thinking, suggests a simple solution to the problem of panic buying of petrol or diesel. Limiting the size of purchases only makes things worse. Bring in a minimum purchase of £50.
How come lorry drivers are deemed more necessary than nurses, midwives, doctors and ancillary staff? Why not allow those who had to leave post-Brexit to return to their jobs in the NHS, now on its knees through staff shortages?
Is there really a shortage of HGV drivers? Or is it just that so many of them are driving empty lorries around the country delivering government promises?
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Might I suggest a partial solution to the current labour shortages? Asylum seekers are desperate to work here in the UK, longing to learn English and contribute to their new home country. Perhaps now is the ideal time to lift the ban on working while waiting for an asylum decision.
Baildon, West Yorkshire
The only surprise now is that this inept government hasn’t negotiated a contract with a haulage company that doesn’t have any tankers.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Grant Shapps claims that Poland and Germany are experiencing “very large and even larger” shortages (Report, 24 September). This is not true. As a German resident, I would like to say that while the pandemic and the combination of high demand and supply chain difficulties have led to price increases all over Europe, here there are no empty shelves in supermarkets and no petrol stations without fuel. I have neither seen any myself, nor have I read or heard any reports of this occurring. As far as I can see on my daily shopping trips, the supply situation here is completely normal, except that prices for some things have increased.
Schneverdingen, Lower Saxony, Germany