Home Office Launches New Workers Scheme
On 6 September 2018, the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, and the Environmental Secretary, Michael Gove, introduced a two-year pilot scheme to aid UK farmers.
The scheme will grant Non-EU migrant workers to work on farms and then reimburse after six months. The pilot scheme will start in spring 2019 and will accept the recruitment of up to 2,500 non-EU workers.
Two scheme operatives, who will supervise the appointment of the workers, will track the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme. Information on who the scheme operators are have not yet been published and will follow in due course.
Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, stated that “This pilot will ensure farmers have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year” and added that he is “committed to having an immigration system that reduces migration to substantial levels, supports all industry and ensures we welcome those who benefit Britain”.
The statement comes as British Summer Fruits, the industry body representative of companies that supply garden-fresh berries in UK supermarkets are recording staff unavailability of 10-20%. The National Farmers Union (NFU) estimates that 60,000 seasonal workers are working in UK horticulture every year, with roughly 67% having previously come from Romania and Bulgaria, 23% from other countries in the EU and just 1% from the UK itself.
The assurance of a surplus 2,500 workers will not satisfy the shortage but many think that it is a footstep in the right track, with the NFU labelling the scheme as a “major victory”.
This is one of the first hints of how the Home Office may handle with labour unavailability post Brexit.