Ein, zwei, drive: ministers make bizarre plea to German expats to solve fuel crisis – Telegraph.co.uk

A million letters sent out

As the fuel crisis deepened last week, more than a million letters were sent out by the Department for Transport (DfT) to people with current or expired HGV licences in a bid to recruit more truckers.

On Friday, German expats, who have never driven HGVs, took to social media to express confusion at receiving the letter from Baroness Vere effusing about the profession’s “attractive pay rates” and urging them to “consider returning” to trucking. 

One Twitter user said a friend who was a director of a research facility at the University of Cambridge had received a DfT letter.

One 41-year-old German man, who received two letters for himself and his wife on Friday, told The Independent: “I’m sure pay and conditions for HGV drivers have improved, but ultimately I have decided to carry on in my role at an investment bank. 

“My wife has never driven anything larger than a Volvo, so she is also intending to decline the exciting opportunity.”

Government sources said the letters had been sent by accident as civil servants “cast the net wide” to find possible HGV drivers to ease the crisis. 

Oil industry reassures drivers

The Telegraph understands any respondents to the letters are assessed for suitability for HGV driving and then have to take the relevant tests.

Meanwhile, the oil industry moved to reassure drivers on Friday that the petrol situation was “stabilising”. 

In a joint statement, BP and other suppliers said there was “plenty of fuel at our refineries and terminals” ready to make its way to the pumps.

The Government also announced on Friday that it will resume publishing weekly stats for the country’s fuel stocks to reassure panic buyers.

During the pandemic, the figures had been cut back to quarterly releases, but the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that “in response to the public interest we will now revert to a weekly release of data” from next Thursday.

Cheap labour from overseas

On Friday, the Government also reportedly changed its short-term visa scheme for foreign lorry drivers so that they can now stay for a full three months rather than having to leave before the original cut-off of Christmas Eve.

It came as Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, hit out at employers on Friday for attempting to keep wages down by importing cheap labour from overseas. 

The Government’s announcement that it would grant 10,500 temporary visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers to help alleviate disruption at Christmas has led to a wave of calls from other sectors, such as the meat industry. And Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has warned that goods shortages could last until Christmas.

However, in an interview with the ConservativeHome website, Mr Kwarteng said voters had decisively rejected the “low-wage, high-immigration model” when they voted for Brexit.

He added: “What we’re seeing now is part of that transition. You’re quite right to say people are resisting that, particularly employers that were benefiting from an influx of labour that could keep wages low.”

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