‘Something is seriously wrong in our economy’: Tory peer and Next boss Lord Wolfson warns that labor shortages are a ‘real problem’ and prices will rise unless companies are allowed to hire more foreign workers
- Lord Wolfson said ‘Something is seriously wrong’ with the UK economy
- Sectors of the economy experiencing ‘real panic and despondency’
- He said that companies in the restaurant and healthcare sector were struggling
- Government has announced to approve 10,500 temporary visas
Tory peer and Next boss Lord Wolfson has warned that lab shortages are a ‘real problem’ and prices will rise unless companies are allowed to hire more foreign workers.
Lord Wolfson said “something goes seriously wrong in our economy” when restaurants can’t serve meals because they don’t have the staff.
Sectors of the economy are experiencing “real panic and despondency” over the impact of labor shortages, Next’s CEO added.
He said that while problems for Next were “relatively mild” at the time other companies in the restaurant, hotel and healthcare sectors were facing problems.
Labor shortages are a real problem,” Lord Wolfson told ITV News.
“If you have restaurants that say they can’t serve meals because they don’t have the staff to open their restaurant, something is seriously wrong in our economy.”
Lord Wolfson (pictured) said ‘something is seriously wrong in our economy’ when restaurants can’t serve meals because they don’t have the staff
The government recently announced that it would approve 10,500 temporary visas over the next two months to reduce the shortages.
But Lord Wolfson said the measures were not enough. He said that instead of solving the problem with ‘people throwing stones at each other’, ministers should sit down with companies to ‘design a system that offers the best of both worlds’.
The Next chief also called on the government to allow companies to “get visas for the skills they desperately need.”
His comments come after Boris Johnson told companies they should not ‘use immigration as an excuse not to invest’ in workers, while he pledged to build ‘high pay’ today after Britain’s Brexit.
When asked whether big companies don’t want immigration controls, he tells BBC Radio 4’s Today program: ‘Absolutely not.
“What I’ve suggested is that we have a market-driven solution where companies can get visas for the skills they desperately need, but with two conditions.
“The first is that they have to pay those people who come from abroad the same wage as British workers and on top of that they have to pay a visa tax, say 7 percent of the wage.
That way we can have a market-led solution that ensures people are not brought into the UK to undermine UK workers as they will always be more expensive and it provides the skills Britain desperately needs to be keep industries moving .’
In his Conservative Party conference address, Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his restrictions on foreign workers and told activists that the government is “now beginning the change of course that should have happened in the British economy a long time ago”.
Lord Wolfson said: ‘I think that approach leads to queues at petrol stations and the unnecessary shooting of pigs, so I don’t think that’s a particularly constructive approach.
In his Conservative Party conference speech, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) defended his restrictions on foreign workers and told activists that the government is ‘now beginning the change of direction that should have happened long ago in the UK economy’
“Instead of solving this problem with people throwing rocks at each other, we sit down together, work through and design a system that delivers the best of both worlds.”
Lord Wolfson said he has “yet” received no response from ministers after raising the issue.
Asked about the outlook for the coming months, he said: ‘What we’re experiencing is relatively mild, in terms of the company I work for, will we get through Christmas, our next day delivery may deteriorate, it may not be quite like that. good service as our customers are used to and that would be a shame.
‘But when I talk to people who are in the hospitality industry, hotel industry or care homes, there is real panic and despondency.’
In his keynote speech to Tory believers today, the Prime Minister said there would be no more ‘drift and dither’ over ‘Leveling’ the country – arguing that it was voted on in the 2016 referendum.
Wavering to his predecessors David Cameron and Theresa May and defying corporate anger over supply chain disruption, he said he had the “guts” to push ahead with major reforms.
He also stressed that there is “no alternative” to moving away from a “broken” economy that relies on immigration.
Lord Wolfson said the government risked uncontrollable price hikes by pursuing a policy of forcing companies to pay their staff more.