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Local Businesses are Hitting Out Against Brexit

LISTEN: Andrew Symington explains how Brexit is impacting his business

Local businesses in Highland Perthshire are hitting out against the results of Brexit as some face staff shortages and supply chain issues.

Elizabeth Yule Transport say they are facing a shortage of drivers and both Taiga Upland and Edradour Distillery are suffering from staff and material supply shortage.

Andrew Symington, the owner of Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky and the Edradour Distillery, said: “The results of Brexit are that we are very short-staffed. There are no local available staff.

“In Pitlochry, most of the businesses were being run by Europeans, there were a lot of Europeans here, many who went home because of the COVID shutdown. And then they don’t seem to be coming back.

“It’s only those that have been established for many years that have families and children staying on, but the younger ones seem to have disappeared.”

It’s not just Highland Perthshire’s rural economy that is voicing its concerns, the hospitality sector is also tackling similar challenges.

Highland Ward Councillor, Mike Williamson said: “The hospitality and agricultural industries were the first to be impacted because of labour shortages.

“Recently, for example, there were over 80 vacancies for Chefs within Highland Perthshire alone. These labour shortages have been caused by the ending of free movement, and they will surely start to put more pressure on our supply chains and the delivery of core services.

“My fear is that other services, such as the NHS and care services will start to struggle for staff in the near future if they are not already doing so.”

But the government are reassuring people across the UK that Britain has the strength to overcome the issue.

Speaking this week, Liz Truss, the foreign minister, said: “I don’t believe in a command-and-control economy so I don’t believe the prime minister is responsible for what is in the shops. This is why we have a free enterprise economy. I’m sure that the goods will be delivered into our shops.”

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, added: “The way forward for our country is not to just pull the big lever marked uncontrolled immigration, and allow in huge numbers of people to do work. So what I won’t do is go back to the old failed model of low wages, low skills supported by uncontrolled immigration.”

But MP for Perth and North Perthshire, Pete Wishart, is not convinced that enough is being done to alleviate the strain these businesses are experiencing.

Mr Wishart also said: “At Elizabeth Yule, the problems are more concrete as they struggle with labour shortages of drivers.

“During Covid, they were hit hardest as one of the forgotten industries impacted by the pandemic and it seems that the bus industry continues to be low down on the UK governments priority list.

“While they are asking HGV drivers to come here for the unattractive 3-month VISA ending on Christmas Eve, they have made no provision at all to increase the availability of bus drivers.”

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