Stock Shortages and Higher Prices On Their Way Due to Border Delays

A new survey conducted in the middle of this month has found that the border between the UK and the EU is becoming significantly more clogged up. Well over half of UK businesses said that border delays have become longer since the beginning of January 2021.

The impact of these delays will result in stock shortages and inflated prices for consumers according to the highly respected Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) which carried out the survey.

Paperwork Problems

The CIPS found that the main issue causing delays is the time it takes for customs officials to work through new paperwork. Insufficient numbers of customs staff and drivers being turned away for having the wrong paperwork were also cited by respondents.

Border delays may be made worse by more red tape yet to come into force
More new import red tape yet to come into force [Image: Ivan Marc, Shutterstock]

These delays are happening despite the fact many new import certifications are yet to come into force. The extra checks, which will have an impact on a wide range of goods from sausages to live mussels, are due to be phased in from April.

Half of UK businesses said that delays have become longer since January 2021

350 UK supply chain managers took part in the survey. 63% said they’d experienced delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the UK. That’s up from 38% in a similar survey conducted in January this year. 

The situation was found to be only slightly better for exports, with 44% experiencing delays of at least 2-3 days getting goods into the EU. 

Delays Worsening

‘We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce as freight volumes returned to normal and customs systems became used to the new processes has not come to pass,’ Dr John Glen, CIPS Economist and Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management said. 

‘What is even more concerning is that the delays are continuing to get longer, putting more and more pressure on the UK’s supply chains and affecting the timely delivery of much-needed goods.’

In a totally separate issue, the consequences of Brexit have affected movement of people in a similar way to goods. Increased red tape has also caused problems for language students at universities in the UK who need to study in the EU as part of their course. 

We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce has not come to pass

Student Confusion

From the 1st of January this year, students arriving in EU countries have had to submit huge quantities of paperwork to get visas for their stay, with requirements being different from country to country. 

Academics say many students are still stuck at home as they wait for further instructions or try to get to the bottom of conflicting information. 

One university language professor was scathing of the government’s handling of the situation.

She said government guidance was inadequate and littered with unhelpful ‘you may need to’ phrases as well as links to other EU government sites which often contradicted the UK’s original advice. 

The whole situation has been further complicated by the pandemic because some EU countries have introduced travel bans on non-EU residents, which, of course, now apply to UK citizens.

[Header Image: Luca De Gregorio, Shutterstock]