Nigel Huddleston MP has welcomed the news that operation of the ‘Seasonal Workers Pilot’ has commenced.
The nationwide pilot was announced by the Government in response to calls made by Mr Huddleston together with other parliamentarians and farmers from across the country for labour shortages in the horticultural sector to be addressed.
The pilot is due to run until the end of December 2020 and will operate in the edible horticulture sector, which is the sector of agriculture which has been experiencing the most severe seasonal labour shortages. Under the scheme, growers will be able to employ up to 2,500 non-EU migrant workers for seasonal work for up to 6 months. It is anticipated that the first workers will start to arrive on UK farms before the end of April.
Two scheme operators – Concordia and Pro-Force – have been licenced to manage the pilot and will be responsible for identifying suitable migrant workers and matching them to UK growers. The Government has placed a specific duty on the scheme operators to ensure that all regions of the UK are able to benefit from the pilot.
Nigel Huddleston MP said: “I was pleased when the Seasonal Workers Pilot was announced by the Government last year and it is welcome news that the scheme is finally in operation. Farmers in my constituency have been reporting shortages of workers on their farms for some time and this assistance to ease labour pressures in the industry is urgently needed in Worcestershire. The Government has indicated that the outcome of this pilot will help it determine whether the scheme should be rolled out more widely so I will continue engaging with Ministers in both the Home Office and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the need for longer term support for the farming industry.”