To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of implementing the recommendations of the Grant Thornton Report on Labour Availability to (a) introduce a 12 month covid-19 recovery visa to enable supply chains to recruit critical roles and (b) commit to a permanent, revised and expanded Seasonal Worker Scheme for UK horticulture.
17 September 2021
The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found some roles in the food production, supply and agricultural sectors meet the RQF3 skills threshold for the Skilled Worker route so are eligible to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa, whereas others do not. The threshold was previously set at degree-level jobs. Modelling by the MAC suggests the new, broader RQF3 threshold strikes a reasonable balance between controlling immigration and business access to labour.
The Government position therefore remains we will not be introducing a short-term visa route such as the ‘Covid recovery visa’ as has been suggested. Most of the solutions are likely to be driven by industry, with a big push towards improving pay, conditions and diversity needed. We will continue to monitor the labour needs of other sectors and the Government agreed with the Migration Advisory Committee to have a more regular pattern of minor and major reviews of the Shortage Occupation List, with the first major review taking place no earlier than 2023.
Beyond the Points Based System, there is the existing UK labour market, which includes those who come to the UK through our Youth Mobility Schemes (which we are looking to expand), our new British National (Overseas) visa for those from Hong Kong, dependants of those arriving under the expanded skilled worker route, as well as over 6million applications under the EU Settlement Scheme and those who arrive through other routes, such as our family visa ones, who all have access to the UK labour market.
As a transitional measure, to help farm businesses adjust to changes to the UK labour market, the Seasonal Workers Pilot was extended into this year with 30,000 visas available (which, as yet, have not all been taken up). Decisions on the future of the pilot will be taken in due course, however, there are no plans to expand the pilot further