UK food firms ask government to utilise prisoners to help with alarming labour shortages

The UK is facing the worst labour shortage since 1997, leading the meat industry to call upon government aid

Updated on 24 August 2021 • Written By Archie Lockyer

UK food firms ask government to utilise prisoners to help with alarming labour shortages

UK food manufacturers are currently in talks with the government about employing prisoners to help counter the worst shortage of workers that the UK has faced in over 20 years, due to both the Coronavirus pandemic and Brexit causing EU workers to return to their home countries.

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The Association of British Meat Suppliers announced they have made contact with the Ministry of Justice to discuss how businesses could employ ex-offenders as well as current inmates via a scheme that allows prisoners to take paid work. Along with these calls, the government has recently expanded its kitchen training scheme across prisons in the UK, giving inmates skill sets to help stem the deficit in the manufacturing and hospitality industries.

The British Poultry Council announced that one in six jobs were not filled, which is a figure of around 7,000 missing workers. Additionally, the UK faces a shortage of around 90,000 HGV drivers that has had a knock on effect on several restaurants including KFC, which currently faces a shortage of menu items

The British Meat Processors Association stated that they are ‘leaving no stone unturned’ in their desire to fill critical vacancies in the industry, with some associations also looking to employ ex-service people in roles.

Tony Goodger, a key figure in The Association of British Meat Suppliers, stated that the Home Office suggests that the ‘UK Labour market should take precedence’ despite calls from many in businesses to grant temporary visas to EU drivers and warned that the problem will become more severe in the run up to Christmas.

In response to the labour crisis, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said that they would seek to ‘support all industries with skill shortages where possible’ and bring prisoner release levels back to ‘pre-pandemic levels’.

In other news, the owners of popular rose winery Maison Mirabeau speak of ‘agony’ following deadly wildfires in France.