Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial crisis, the eurozone, business, and the UK’s supply chain crisis.
Britain has woken up to another day of disruption to fuel supplies, after problems shipping petrol and diesel to forecourts led to shortages and panic buying in recent days.
There are fears that vital services will be disrupted as the impact ripples through the economy.
Transport groups are already reporting problems on the roads again this morning, as queues at petrol stations with fuel for sale build up in the early morning rush.
Southdown buses, who operate in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, is warning of queues and delays.
And there are problems on other roads as motorists try to fill up.
Other petrol stations remain short of some grades of fuel, or are dry, as the industry struggles to ship fuel to forecourts fast enough.
Yesterday, the fuel industry said there was “plenty of fuel” at UK refineries and terminals, and that it expected demand “will return to its normal levels in the coming days”.
They’re hoping that demand will tail off after the weekend rush:
“As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts. We would encourage everyone to buy fuel as they usually would.
But many people are trying to get fuel for their normal activities, such as key workers in the health service. Pressure is growing on the government to give ambulance drivers, healthcare staff and other essential workers priority access to fuel.
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned that as pumps run dry “there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs”.
A midwife at a hospital in Surrey told the i newspaper that the situation was “infuriating”.
On Monday morning she was an hour late for work after trying five fuel stations on her way in from Brighton.
“NHS workers are on their knees. The workload is relentless and we do not have the extra capacity to search and stress for fuel to get to work. Who is prioritising key workers?”
Schools also fear that they could be forced to return to online teaching, if staff, pupils or suppliers can’t get onside.
Businesses are also warning of problems.
David Brown, chair of National Courier and Despatch Association, a trade body, said delivery companies were turning down jobs and telling workers to stay at home because of a lack of certainty around fuel supplies.
“It has been difficult,” he added (via the Financial Times)
“It has been frustrating for people who earn a living from driving.”
Yesterday, the government put army drivers on standby to help deliver petrol and diesel if needed – but stopped short of an immediate deployment
Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said it was right for the government to take “sensible, precautionary steps”.
“The UK continues to have strong supplies of fuel. However, we are aware of supply chain issues at fuel station forecourts and are taking steps to ease these as a matter of priority,” he said. “If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel.”
- 7am BST: German GfK consumer confidence survey
- 1.30pm BST: US house price index for July
- 3pm BST: US consumer confidence report for September