Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that supply problems could continue for months to come, saying there is no “magic wand” to solve the problem overnight.
Speaking to the BBC ahead of his speech at the Conservative party conference today, he said ministers were seeking solutions to supply disruptions which could include “pragmatic controlled immigration” to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers.
Sunak told the BBC: “Whether it’s short-term visas, speeding up testing capacity for HGV drivers, of course we should do all those things and we are doing all those things, but we can’t wave a magic wand and make global supply chain challenges disappear overnight.”
As part of his conference speech today, he pledged to rebuild the economy after it was hit by Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, including a focus on science and technology.
He announced that the Kickstart scheme, which provides paid placements for people aged 16 to 24 on universal credit, will be extended by three months to March 2022.
Launched in September last year, the scheme was allocated £2 billion in funding to create 250,000 jobs by the end of 2021 but, according to the latest figures, only 76,900 have actually started Kickstart roles and only 196,300 roles in total have been made available for youngsters to apply for. Participating businesses include Edinburgh garment decorator Get Branded.
He also announced an extension to the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme – for those who have been unemployed for more than three months – by another year.
Other actions include extending the £3,000 incentive for firms to take on apprentices until the end of January.
He has promised more help for people coming off the furlough scheme, which closed at the end of September after paying the wages of 11.6 million workers during the pandemic.
In an interview with Sky ahead of his speech, he said: “I want them to be reassured that we are throwing literally the kitchen sink at helping them get a new job, new skills, new opportunities and we know that’s been working over the past 12 to 18 months and that’s why we’re doing more of it today.”
Details will be confirmed when Sunak announces the outcome of his Spending Review on 27 October.