AT THE Conservative Party conference on Monday – despite continuing queues at some petrol stations, rising energy costs and growing concern about the cost of living – the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to offer any solution to what is threatening to turn into a winter of discontent.

The Government hasn't even taken ownership of this crisis.

Instead, according to the Government, it’s businesses’ fault. It’s our fault.

Truth be told, the problems we’re facing are entirely of the Government’s own making. Their botched Brexit deal, their damaging points-based immigration system and their handling of the pandemic have led us to this situation.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere was warned months ago by industry about a potential supply chain crisis that could lead to empty supermarket shelves and a fuel shortage at forecourts.

Industry bodies such as UK Hospitality have been telling the Government for months and months that there are major problems with the workforce in sectors including agriculture and hospitality, and with HGV driver numbers.

And local MPs like me have been raising such issues with ministers, urging them to act.

In June, at Prime Minister's Questions, for example, I told Boris Johnson that pubs, restaurants and hotels in Oxfordshire (not to mention their suppliers) would not be able to open at full capacity because they lacked the staff.

I called on him to introduce a Covid Recovery Visa for the sector – worth £2.5bn to Oxfordshire in a normal year – so businesses could avoid closing down in the months ahead.

His response then is the same as what he’s been saying this week; that we need to be increasing wages and hiring more local people to fill these jobs, giving them the skills and the tools to succeed.

That’s all well and good, and, of course, I agree. The more posts filled by people in need of work in our community the better. But it completely fails to address the immediacy and the urgency of this crisis.

Training and workforce strategies will help solve this problem in the long term, but right now I have constituents whose businesses face closure.

Baz Butcher, landlord of the White Hart in Wytham, told me that he is forced to close two days a week, because he can’t find the staff.

He’s tried everything: full training on the job; no experience needed; free live-in accommodation; and strict limits on working hours.

Despite that, he’s had no suitable candidates come forward for chef or front of house vacancies.

What does Boris Johnson have to say to pub landlords like Baz? That this is a good thing? Higher wages will only last if there are jobs to go with them.

Right now, their only real impact will be on driving up inflation and the cost of living for all of us. That’s because the Government lacks a strategy, a plan.

Baz told me that a Covid Recovery Visa was needed right now. Otherwise, he will have to put up all his prices to try and break even, or he could face insolvency.

The Conservatives’ dogma on immigration and the economy is threatening to gut our communities of important institutions and close down small businesses.

Christmas, once again, will prove to be hard for many in our community this year. Fuel and food may be in short supply, and energy costs will continue to rise.

It will get even worse if we have to face restrictions again this year, because of the Government’s failure to learn lessons from the pandemic so far.

My cross-party group, the APPG on Coronavirus, has sent him countless recommendations based on hours of hearings and reams of written evidence. He needs to start listening.

And the PM needs to start leading. Right now, the Conservatives are still focused on the next General Election, on holding on to the Red Wall and stopping the Blue Wall from crumbling away.

With a hard winter on the horizon and crises at home, we need them to put governing first. To put listening first.