The United Kingdom is facing an imminent food and medicine supply crisis, a leading trade association has warned, as nearly half of the nation’s freight lorries are out of service.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has said that the British supply chain is in jeopardy, with many food and medicine transportation firms facing collapse as a result of the economic crisis caused by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the RHA, said that many of the independent trucking businesses that transport food and medicine throughout the country rely financially on income generated from shipping equipment for concerts and other big events, all of which have been cancelled during the lockdown. As a result, many independent hauliers have been forced to ground their fleets due to the loss of income, leading to breakdowns in the food and medicine supply chains.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, some 46 per cent of trucks throughout the nation have been grounded, according to an RHA survey.
“One major haulier has parked up their 170-vehicle fleet and told their driving force nothing will be moving for at least two to three months with all revenue disappearing overnight,” Burnett told the Daily Mail.
“Another is in the same situation having had concert tours worth millions cancelled,” he added.
“We need cash, we need grants, we need help to balance and normalise this cashflow problem, and the loan system simply doesn’t work at this point in time. The Government will need to provide more radical financial support to ensure they survive,” Burnett urged.
Mr Burnett warned that many trucking firms will “quickly collapse” if banks and fuel suppliers withdraw lines of credit, adding that the “problem is compounded by forthcoming regulatory change requiring companies to invest in new, low emission vehicles”.
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The warnings from the trucking industry come as millions of people in Britain are already going without food as a result of self-isolation, lack of money due to unemployment, and supply shortages.
A survey conducted by YouGov for the Food Foundation research organisation found that six per cent of surveyed adults in the UK, representing three million people, said that someone in their household has been forced to go hungry since the start of the nationwide lockdown.
“There is a food poverty problem that has not been dealt with, and we’re seeing the results of that now,” Anna Taylor, the executive director of the Food Foundation, told the Financial Times, adding: “On top of that, we have new problems around isolation and shortages — people are telling us they simply can’t get out to get the food they need.”
In response to the looming trucking crisis, a spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “As the Chancellor announced, this Government will provide £330 billion of guarantees, including cash grants of up to £25,000 for several hundred thousand small businesses.”
“We will stand behind businesses small and large and will do everything we can to support businesses to get through this,” the spokesman added.
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