According to a cross-party group of MPs, the delay to the Government’s Seasonal Workers (SAWs) pilot is causing “unnecessary and costly uncertainty” for farmers who need workers from overseas to harvest their products.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has slammed the Government’s “last-minute approach” to finalising the details of its recruitment scheme and warned that British growers were “at the bottom” of the priority list.
Despite confirming it would extend the SAWs scheme to 30,000 permits in December, the Government only announced the final two of its four permitted operators in May.
This shortage includes skilled workers including Official Veterinarians (OVs) working in abattoirs, of which 9 in 10 are EEA-qualified.
The report makes clear that, although registration standards have been temporarily lowered as a short-term solution, the Government has yet to confirm how it intends to fill these jobs in the long term. In addition, with peak harvesting season almost here, time is running out to recruit the skilled workers that UK producers need.
Neil Parish, chairman of the EFRA committee, said “Despite last year’s ‘Pick for Britain’ pilot scheme, our report made it clear that overseas labour is still very much needed, and the government’s efforts to recruit more domestic labour cannot hope to be sufficient for this summer’s harvest.”
He added, “There can be no excuse for further hold-ups- the Home Office need to start listening to the agricultural sector now to minimise the impact on British farmers.”
For more information or advice on related matters, please contact Martin Johnson, General Practice Manager and Agricultural and Rural Affairs expert at Milsted Langdon.