Drivers hit with £30 petrol limit as panic buying continues

© PA Lorry driver shortage 240921

Drivers are to be hit with a £30 fuel cap after shortages sparked panic buying across the UK.

EG Group, which has 341 petrol stations in the UK, said in a statement that the move would ensure all its customers “have a fair chance to refuel”.

HGV drivers and emergency services will be excluded from the spend limit which would apply to all its grades of fuel, it added.

The government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of UK industries.

Esso, BP and Tesco petrol forecourts have been affected by challenges getting petrol deliveries.

BP said that around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

© Provided by Evening Standard A petrol station in Sheffield which is closed due to having no fuel (PA)

Meanwhile, around one in six adults in Britain said they were not able to buy essential food items at some point during the past two weeks due to products not being available, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.

No 10 insisted on Friday night that any measures introduced would be “very strictly time-limited”.

It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson had allowed ministers to relax UK immigration rules to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

Downing Street would not confirm whether any decisions had been made.

However, Transport SecretaryGrant Shapps earlier promised to “move heaven and earth” to get the situation solved.

© Provided by Evening Standard (PA Wire)

The Financial Times and the Telegraph reported that the Prime Minister had given ministers the go-ahead to temporarily lift visa restrictions for foreign drivers.

The newspapers said up to 5,000 temporary visas could be granted for HGV drivers, while the Financial Times said a similar number would be approved for food processing workers, especially in the poultry industry.

It comes as the CBI called for ministers to establish a task force on the same level as the Cobra emergency committee to deal with supply issues which have been petrol forecourts close and empty shelves in supermarkets.

And there have been warnings that disruption to festive preparations will be “inevitable” if progress is not made to solve the shortfall of around 90,000 lorry drivers.

© Provided by Evening Standard Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (Kirsty O’Connor / PA)

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.

“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary Covid-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.

“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.

“We are moving to a high-wage, high-skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.

© Provided by Evening Standard (PA Wire)

The Transport Secretary earlier tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, although there have been chaotic scenes at petrol stations across the country.

Mr Shapps said on Friday that motorists should “carry on as normal”.

“The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well,” he told Sky News.

On Friday morning, queues started to form outside some filling stations in the UK.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “HGV drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together.

© Provided by Evening Standard (PA Wire)

“Unless a solution can be found in the next 10 days, it is inevitable that we will see significant disruption in the run-up to Christmas.”

On the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Shapps promised he would do what is needed to ensure that petrol gets to drivers.

“I’ll move heaven and earth to do anything that’s required to make sure that lorries carry on moving our goods and services and petrol around the country,” he said.

But Tony Danker, CBI director-general, said: “After speaking with hundreds of business leaders this week, it’s clear there’s a total mindset shift from growing to coping.

“This is now a major threat to our recovery and the government needs to step up its response to a new level of both speed and boldness.”

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