Supply chain disruption: what to do about food, petrol and heating

The last fortnight has seen disruption across the country to the supply chains which keep food on the shelves of our supermarkets, and pharmacies stocked with the drugs and medicines we need, as well as queues outside petrol stations as motorists try to fill up their vehicles.

There has also been a lot on the news and in the papers about the situation with energy and how people’s power bills might be going up by large amounts due to a large increase in the cost of gas, which is used by more than 85% of the population to heat their homes. This has already seen at least seven energy companies go bust in just six weeks, leaving almost two million customers facing higher tariffs.

In the short term, in response to panic buying at petrol stations which has had the knock-on effect of causing traffic disruption on the roads around them, the government will potentially use the army to help deliver fuel by tankers, to deal with the immediate shortages of fuel.

Locally, Merton is currently reviewing its contingency strategy to ensure that essential users such as emergency services and health workers, alongside other key public and private sector staff, can access fuel in the event of further disruptions to supply.

Longer term, with an eye on guaranteeing and regulating the supply of food, medicines and other goods to supermarkets and the wider retail sector, the government is preparing to issue thousands of short-term visas to EU truck drivers to ease pressures on deliveries in the run-up to Christmas.

In reaction to the collapse of gas firms, and people facing massive hikes in their gas bills over the next few weeks and months, the government may raise winter fuel payments, warm home discounts and cold weather payments, which can total hundreds of pounds and which you can find out about on GOV.UK.

In the borough, Warm & Well in Merton is a partnership which is run by the council and partners Wimbledon Guild, Age UK and Thinking Works. It raises awareness of the importance of staying healthy and active all year-round, whatever the weather and whatever your age.

They are holding a fair at Wimbledon Library on 13 October from 2.30-4.30pm, where they will give out advice. Get your blood pressure checked, pick up a free information pack with a room thermometer, and enjoy free brownies and refreshments, as well as receive a Covid jab.

Stallholders at the fair will include Healthwatch, the Alzheimer’s Society, the police, fire brigade and other organisations including Thinking Works, which has helped thousands of households save hundreds of pounds through advice and referral to partners for assistance.