Government will resist pressure to issue temporary visas to solve labour shortages

The government’s attitude is that the shortages seen across the country are a temporary problem, caused primarily by the Covid-19 pandemic, and one that will resolve itself before too long.

Its message to businesses who complain is: pay more and you’ll find the people you need.

There is some evidence that pay is rising and, along with it, prices. But labour shortages persist, they have done ever since the economy began to unlock and the chorus of disapproval is getting louder.

The CBI’s warning that the jobs backlog could take two years to clear deserves to be taken seriously.

The government knows that this is an issue that businesses feel very passionately about, less so the public.

Why won't the government issue temporary visas?

Perhaps because employees are rather enjoying feeling empowered.

Perhaps because - thus far - while labour shortages have caused deep frustration and inconvenience, they have not been disastrous. There are gaps on the supermarket shelves but people can still shop. That could, of course, change, for better or worse.

Businesses want the government to issue temporary visas for foreign workers.

The government is determined not to do that, partly because it argues they won’t solve the problem and partly, as one minister told me last week, “that would not be a terrible good look after Brexit.”