South Yorkshire chamber bosses' plea for help over crises 'throttling' region's recovery
South Yorkshire chamber bosses have issued an unprecedented cry for help to tackle worsening crises that threaten to ‘throttle’ the recovery.
The region is facing a supply chain crisis due to driver shortages and a crisis of unfilled vacancies ‘across many sectors’, they said.
A record number of firms – 78 per cent - trying to recruit were struggling – and many were facing a chronic shortage of materials, rising wages and costs.
What is causing the supply chain crisis?
The problems were caused by Covid and Brexit – blamed for a shortage of lorry drivers, and new red tape and costs for exporters – a lack of skills and other factors, according to Andrew Denniff, chief executive of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber.
Now, the chambers are calling on government to work with them on ‘practical, real-world responses’ to the ‘growing crisis’.
The other chamber leaders are Dan Fell in Doncaster, and Alexis Krachai and Louisa Harrison-Walker in Sheffield.
In a joint statement they said: “We welcome that so many businesses across South Yorkshire saw increased customer demand over quarter three.
“Many are taking on new staff, growing sales and order books and working hard to get back on their feet after Covid lockdowns and related disruptions.
“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 out employment schemes like Kickstart 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.“
The problems were revealed by the South Yorkshire Quarterly Economic Survey which heard from 572 firms.
It also showed 39 per cent hired staff over the last three months, the highest figure since before the pandemic.
Nearly half (49 per cent) reported operating at full capacity, with only two per cent expecting their prices to fall over the next three months.
The UK is said to be 100,000 lorry drivers short due to Brexit and Covid.
Last week, Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield, as part of the UK Trade and Business Commission, put forward 64 proposals to fix the ‘broken’ Brexit deal, which continues to ‘cost jobs and increase prices’ while causing an ‘ongoing crisis in the supply chain’.
Paul Blomfield MP said: “The evidence we’ve heard from dozens of experts and businesses confirms that this deal is broken and will continue to create problems in our supply chain, cost jobs and increase prices across the UK.”
BEIS was contacted for comment.