Millions of households are facing bill increases of more than £400 as the gas crisis causes further suppliers to collapse.
Two more energy firms with a combined 800,000 customers, Avro Energy and Green Supplier, went into administration yesterday.
Dozens of other companies are under threat including Bulb, which supplies 1.7million homes.
Customers on cheap tariffs with failed firms face being bumped up to the capped rate of £1,277 – a rise of at least £400.
Energy watchdog Ofgem described the situation as ‘unprecedented’ and confirmed bills would rise further.
The bleak warning came as food chiefs said supply problems caused by shortages of drivers and farm workers were deepening.
‘Our concern is that the pictures of empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic buying,’ said Andrew Woolfenden of Tesco.
Twelve industry groups, led by the National Farmers’ Union, predicted the situation would get worse without a new visa regime to draw in foreign workers.
Customers with failing energy firms will be switched to new suppliers charging much higher tariffs, which is likely to add at least £400 extra to the cost of heat and light.
Meat manufacturers have warned that shoppers are likely to face higher prices as a result of the surge in CO2 costs
Two more energy firms with a combined 800,000 customers, Avro Energy and Green Supplier, went into administration yesterday. Dozens of other companies are under threat including Bulb, which supplies 1.7million homes
The sight of empty shelves could get ‘ten times worse’ before Christmas and trigger panic buying, bosses at Tesco have warned.
Britain’s biggest retailer said a chronic shortage of delivery drivers will make it impossible to move goods to stores during the busy festive season.
Gaps have been seen on shelves for months as a result of the delivery crisis, while big chains including McDonald’s and Wetherspoons have apologised to customers for shortages.
Poultry industry bosses have warned of a lack of fresh turkeys and others have suggested problems with deliveries of toys and many other goods.
Now Tesco’s UK distribution chief Andrew Woolfenden has said the situation is set to escalate. ‘Our concern is that the pictures of empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic buying,’ he added.
The road haulage industry says there is a shortage of more than 90,000 skilled HGV drivers.
Industry leaders say the only solution is to create an emergency visa to allow thousands of truck drivers from EU countries into Britain to make sure the economy does not grind to a halt.
Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps have so far ruled this out, insisting firms need to recruit more drivers and pay them better. Tesco has been offering new driver recruits bonuses of £1,000 since July, while other supermarkets and businesses have taken similar action.
But Mr Woolfenden said firms are fighting over a limited pool of drivers so this approach is ‘moving deckchairs around’.
Tesco has warned ministers it has a shortfall of 800 HGV drivers and asked the Government to temporarily make it easier to bring in workers from abroad.
Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, which speaks for all the large store chains, said: ‘Retailers are helping train tens of thousands of new British drivers but while this takes place it is vital that Government provides temporary work visas to allow drivers from abroad to fill the gap and keep our supply chains moving.’
A task force has been set up by the Cabinet Office to address supply chain problems.
Industry leaders say the driver shortage is a combined result of Covid-19 and Brexit. The pandemic led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of driving tests for people who would have replaced older drivers leaving the industry.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics said 14,000 European drivers left the UK in the year to June 2020 and only 600 had returned by July this year. The Road Haulage Association puts the number who left at 20,000 and Logistics UK at 25,000.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We recognise business is facing a range of