LONDON: The British military began delivering fuel to gas stations yesterday after a shortage of tanker drivers sparked two weeks of panic buying by motorists and emptied pumps. Troops in camouflage uniforms were seen at the Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead, 20 miles north of London, after the army was put on hold last week. Some 200 soldiers, half of whom are drivers, are taking part in Operation Escalin to alleviate fuel shortages in London and in the south-east of England, the most affected by the operation of the pumps.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 65% of the total of the UK’s 8,380 independent forecourt, welcomed the military intervention. But he warned that the soldiers would likely have only a limited effect. One in five gas stations in London and the south-east of England ran out of fuel, while the crisis in the rest of the country was “almost over,” PRA Chairman Brian Madderson said.
Britain’s Finance Minister said ending a pandemic leave program that kept millions of workers would lead to job losses as the government prepares to announce new support for workers . Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to announce Â£ 500million ($ 680million, â¬ 580million) recycling scheme for older workers coming out of leave and young Britons, the Conservative Party said in power.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has spent nearly Â£ 70 billion to pay the bulk of the salaries of staff trapped at home, helping to keep the official unemployment rate relatively low. But Sunak ended the holiday scheme on Thursday and is also removing a weekly benefit increase for lower-paid workers. He insists it is time to shift to longer-term support, against objections from opposition parties and activists that the changes will push many people further into poverty. “I said from the start of this crisis that it was not possible for me or any chancellor to save every person’s job,” Sunak told Sky News.
“We have a lower unemployment rate here in the UK than in America, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, among others, and there are a record number of vacancies,” he said. he adds. The first phase of his plan had protected 11 million jobs through the leave program, he said, and Britain “is now enjoying one of the strongest and fastest recoveries of any major. world economies “. “But the job is not done yet and I want to make sure our economy is fit for the future, and that means providing the support and skills people need to work and get ahead in life,” said he said in a speech. at the annual curatorial conference.
However, protesters at the Manchester conference in north-west England accused the Tories of abandoning the poor. âThe children are hungry. How can it be in this century? We are here because we have to do something to register our disgust, “retired teacher Lorraine Thompson told AFP on Sunday.
Official data from last week showed the UK economy rebounded more strongly than expected in the second quarter. But separate indicators point to slowing growth, as the country grapples with a supply chain bottleneck and global inflationary pressures that have spiked fuel prices. The government is grappling with a wave of panic buying at gas stations caused by a shortage of tanker drivers, and has mobilized the military to help. Companies attribute the shortage of drivers to the government’s hard-line approach to Brexit, which has halted a flow of workers from Eastern Europe, but ministers say the pandemic is to blame.
In a bullish conference message to stalwart Tories, Johnson pledged to move forward with his post-COVID stimulus package to “build back better” in areas ranging from infrastructure to climate change. Asked by the BBC on Sunday, he refused to return Britain to its pre-Brexit economy, which he said was too dependent on cheap foreign labor. “What we cannot do in all these sectors is simply to go back to the tired, failed old model and reach the marked lever of uncontrolled immigration, with people on low wages,” he said. . – AFP