Britain could face “challenges” over the availability of presents this Christmas as a result of disruption to global supply chains, Downing Street has admitted.
But minister Steve Barclay assured the cabinet this morning that concerns over supplies of festive food such as turkeys had now been “alleviated” by action on temporary visas.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Downing Street, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster referred to assurances from the British Poultry Council that there would “definitely” be enough turkeys for Christmas.
After months of pressure, the government relaxed immigration rules in September, making 5,500 visas available for foreign workers as a temporary measure to help the meat-processing industry prepare for the holiday season.
In a presentation to the cabinet on the challenge of dealing with the continuing Covid pandemic and its effects on supply chains on top of managing regular winter pressures, Mr Barclay said that government action had “alleviated concerns over potential turkey shortages in the run up to Christmas”, a No 10 spokesperson said.
Asked whether that meant that British families’ Christmases would not be disrupted by supply-chain problems, the spokesperson said: “Yes, certainly on that specific point with regards to the food supply, that is the view that we have. The action we’ve taken on things like temporary visas has helped alleviate some of the pressures we have seen.
“We know it will be challenging for a number of different sectors and we’re working with them closely.”
The spokesperson was asked whether the sectors affected included those supplying Christmas presents. He replied: “We remain confident that we are taking the right action to deal with the supply challenges that we’re seeing globally.
“That’s not to say that individual sectors won’t face some some issues, as will be seen in other countries.”