Brexit bites – no chickens now and no turkeys for Christmas, while millionaires escape to Portugal for low tax and EU perks

#Brexit special section Beyond England Economy In the media

Staff shortages in the UK caused by Brexit has forced the partial closure of Nando’s with warnings from poultry producers that the serious lack of workers means many households may have to go without traditional turkeys for Christmas.

The British Poultry Council’s (BPC) chief executive Richard Griffiths said it is still waiting for a reply from home secretary Priti Patel about its recent request for the government to ease immigration rules to address the labour crisis that has been deepened by coronavirus and the “pingdemic”.

According to the BPC, the poultry industry employs more than 40,000 people in the UK but there are almost 7,000 vacancies at present, forcing producers to cut weekly output by as much as 10% and reduce product ranges.

Staff problems are ‘a direct result of immigration policies,’ says BPC

“We’ve seen a loss of staff across the supply chain, particularly in our member companies,” Griffiths told the BBC, adding BPC members “are reporting up to 16% vacancies at the moment as a direct result of the limiting of immigration policies”.

With firms fearing seasonal workers will not be available this year, the Guardian reports that turkey supplies could be hit by as much as 20% at Christmas.

“There will be a massive shortage because companies cannot risk hatching turkeys and pushing them on the farm if they can’t get the workers to do the job,” said Paul Kelly, the managing director of KellyBronze Turkeys.

As such, Kelly warns big producers will rear fewer birds for the festive feast if they are not confident in recruiting the 1,500 to 2,000 extra staff required to kill, pluck, pack and deliver the turkeys in December.

Brexit and pingdemic cause chicken shop closures

Nando’s – who this week were forced to temporarily close 10% of its 450 UK restaurants due to a lack of key ingredients – has made 70 of its staff available to suppliers to try and get all branches reopened by tomorrow (Saturday, August 21).

KFC and other high street chicken sellers have also been hit by disruptions to stock and deliveries while supermarkets have experienced problems to fill their shelves due to the UK’s serious shortage of HGV drivers.

The billionaire founder of 2 Sisters Food Group – the UK’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken – Ranjit Singh Boparan said the pingdemic has masked the food industry’s labour shortage crisis caused by Brexit. His company, which employs 16,000 people, has 15% vacancies and is also grappling with wage inflation, Covid absences and surging prices for ingredients.

Boparan said: “The critical labour issue alone means we walk a tightrope every week at the moment,” and he warned of massive food waste without government intervention, “simply because it cannot be processed or delivered.”

Portugal lures British millionaires with EU perks and low tax

Under the headline “Brexit drives British millionaires to Portugal for tax and EU perks”, the Telegraph reports that 2020 saw a 34% rise in the number of Britons making Portugal their permanent home – with 46,238 now living there, making them second largest group of foreign residents after Brazilians.

Pre-Brexit, Britons were the sixth largest group of immigrants living in Portugal.

“Before 2016, the numbers either shrank or grew by a maximum of 4% a year, but they’ve been shooting up ever since,” said Christina Hippisley, from the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, who cites Brexit as a major reason.

Portugal’s “Golden Visa” scheme for non-EU nationals – requiring a minimum investment of €400,000 or €500,000 for a coastal or city location – provides perks of visa-free European travel and citizenship after five years.

Another huge draw is the country’s non-habitual resident tax scheme which offers low income tax rates for those able to live in Portugal for at least six months each year.

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