Staff shortages threatening production of goods, UK business groups warn


Up to a fifth of workers in companies are having to self-isolate after receiving a notification from the NHS Covid app, threatening cuts in production of goods.

Business groups and unions told the PA news agency that the problem had escalated this week, leading to pleas for the Government to step in.

There are calls to bring forward the August 16 date where the fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with Covid-19.

The number of people notified by the app in England and Wales recently passed 500,000 in a single week.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturing organisation Make UK, said: “This is a problem that has escalated significantly over the last week with more and more companies being affected by isolation, with not just an impact on production but a hit to actual shipments of goods going overseas.

“This is an increasingly serious issue affecting companies of all sizes and sectors. There is now an urgent priority for Government to bring forward the August date given the likely impact of restrictions being lifted next week.”

Small and large companies are being hit by staff shortages of up to 20%, PA understands.

Car giant Nissan has been affected at its plant in Sunderland and it is believed that other carmakers, including Rolls-Royce could also have to make changes to production schedules to deal with the problem.

A spokesman for the British Meat Processors Association said: “We’re hearing reports from some members that between five and 10% of their workforce have been ‘pinged’ by the app and asked to self-isolate.

“This is on top of the desperate shortage of workers that the industry is already suffering. As a result, companies are having to simplify down their range of products to compensate for key skills being removed from their production lines.

“If the UK workforce situation deteriorates further, companies will be forced to start shutting down production lines altogether.