by Countryside Alliance

The Alliance has submitted written evidence to the Immigration and Security Public Bill Committee. Despite the Brexit transition period ending 31 December, the seasonal workers scheme is yet to be determined. 

The Alliance has taken the opportunity to make the point that is UK agriculture is to be unaffected in 2021, a seasonal workers scheme must be established, and it must receive proper scrutiny by Parliament.

Although the Immigration and Security Bill does not include the new immigration rules, to be established in secondary legislation, it is still important to remind parliamentarians that the current pilot scheme, of only 10,000, and exclusively for horticulture, does not match the demand of 80,000 in varying sectors, including the game and forestry sectors.

There is also huge concern that left to secondary legislation the new immigration rules, including any seasonal workers scheme, will not receive proper scrutiny and there is a risk that they will be drafted with the aim to satisfy government quotas rather than industry needs.

The Alliance has therefore called on the Government to make clear to Parliament how it intends to facilitate seasonal workers, and any associated scheme, before the current scheme ends and ideally before the current Bill progresses further. Industry needs clarity to plan for when the transition period ends. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of seasonal workers to UK agriculture and difficulty in matching those numbers through the domestic labour workforce. Time is running out. 

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