The chill winds that signal a second Winter of Discontent is coming –

The letter, signed on behalf of 12 food and drink trade bodies, urged the Government to introduce a Covid recovery visa that would open up new jobs to migrant workers and warned: “Without it, more shelves will go empty and consumers will panic buy to try to get through the winter. 

“That is why we must have an urgent commitment from you to enable the industry to recruit from outside the UK over the next 12 months to get us through the winter and to help us save Christmas.”

The NFU said a lack of workers meant food was being left to rot because it could either not be picked, processed or packed.

“Every day there are new examples of food waste across the industry, from chicken to pork, fruit and vegetables, dairy and many other products,” Ms Batters said. “The food is there, but it needs people to get it to the consumers.”

Tesco has warned the Government that it has a shortfall of 800 drivers and is fearful of panic buying in the run-up to Christmas if the nationwide HGV crisis is not addressed. The Road Haulage Association and Logistics UK estimate that there is a need of between 75,000 and 100,000 lorry drivers.

Energy bills heat up

Domestic households will first feel the heat of rising gas prices when energy bills start to hit doormats from Oct 1.

The increase in the price cap – designed to keep costs down – will see average dual fuel bills rise by £139 to £1,277, an increase of 12 per cent. It is likely to be increased again in April when the current soaring wholesale costs are taken into account. Cornwall Insight, an energy consultancy, estimates it could go up in April by 14 per cent, to £1,455.

Senior Tories put Mr Sunak under pressure to use his budget next month to scrap the five per cent VAT charge on household energy to soften the blow of surging bills.

Robert Halfon, the chairman of the Commons education committee, said the UK should take advantage of leaving the EU to slash VAT on energy bills. Abolishing VAT on bills completely would cost the Treasury in the region of £1.6 billion.

For about 1.5 million consumers whose energy supply companies have  gone bust, there may be bigger bills ahead. The collapse of so many smaller energy supply companies will force consumers into the arms of the “big six” and the prospect of higher bills on less favourable tariffs.

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