Disappointingly, government officials seem to be using this against the industry, implying that it means the sector doesn’t need the full 30,000 visas. We all know that is ridiculous.
The reality is that the government’s late decision to expand the scheme into 2021, and the subsequent lengthy process to appoint two additional operators, meant that half of the visas couldn’t even start to be issued until June.
Working well, despite challenges
Considering these challenges, the industry has worked incredibly well to get to this stage in the year with what we estimate to be around 90% of workers recruited.
For businesses that still need to bring in workers for the remainder of the year, we are encouraging members to contact the two labour providers that still have availability:
Importantly, it should be recognised that once a visa has been allocated, a worker has up to 6 months to work on horticulture farms in the UK.
The means, workers will be able to stay and work here until May if their visa is issued in November.
Continuing to look for scheme expansion
As we advance into 2022, the NFU continues to escalate the need for an urgent commitment of the expansion of the scheme:
- with more visas
- more operators
- open to ornamentals and
- a longer term commitment.
While this commitment remains outstanding, I would still encourage businesses to register their requirements with the scheme operators so that the level of demand can be evaluated.
As well as Fruitful Jobs and AG Recruitment, the other operators are:
Join the call for action
Finally, it remains critical that the impacts of labour shortages are highlighted to your MP, along with a call for the seasonal worker scheme to be made permanent.
Your ongoing support will help us secure this much-needed provision.
We are encouraging our members and the public with a call to Email your MP today to call on government to introduce a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa so we can keep our vital food and drink supply chain moving.