South Yorkshire business leaders highlight 'chronic labour shortage' and 'supply chain crisis'

Business leaders across South Yorkshire have said they’re in a ‘supply-chain crisis’ with ‘chronic shortages of labour and materials’ across the regional economy.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 10:55 am
A shortage of HGV drivers has been blamed for the supply chain crisis currently affecting Britain

A new report from South Yorkshire Combined Authority (SYCA) said that 39 per cent of responding firms increased their workforce over the last 12 weeks, the highest figure since before the pandemic.

But they also said that firms are ‘struggling to hire’ and of the 56 per cent of businesses that tried to recruit, 78 per cent said they reported difficulties – an historically high share, business leaders said.

The survey also revealed that there is a ‘strong upward pressure’ on prices and wages with nearly half of firms reported operating at full capacity with just two per cent expecting their prices to fall over the next quarter.

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The heads of South Yorkshire chambers have called on central government for ‘immediate action’ on labour shortages.

They said the crisis was not just a lack of HGV drivers but vacancies in a variety of sectors across the economy.

Calls have been made to review ‘visa polices’ to tackle chronic shortages of staff.

In a joint statement the CEOs of Doncaster, Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham Chambers of Commerce, said: “We welcome that so many businesses across South Yorkshire saw increased customer demand. Many are taking on new staff, growing their sales and order books and working hard to get back on their feet after lockdowns.

“But we are now in a supply-chain crisis. The chronic shortages of labour and materials across our economy and the wider UK risk throttling our recovery.

“This a crisis not only of driver shortages but of unfilled vacancies across many sectors: from hospitality to retail, across services and manufacturing, from skilled technical workers to managerial staff. These are fundamental problems and they won’t go away with the end of furlough.

“After such a long period of pandemic restrictions, the last thing businesses need now are more barriers to growth as they struggle to recruit and battle rising prices and upfront costs.

“We are calling on government – local and national – to work with the business community on practical, real-world responses to this growing crisis.

“We need to broaden employment schemes like Kickstart so as to link more people to job opportunities. Where necessary, review visa policies to address immediate bottlenecks.

“We need to give more financial support to businesses that invest in their productivity – not punish them through tax rises. And longer term, we need to ensure that the skills system delivers for our constantly-evolving business base.“

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