To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to increase access to labour to support the UK food and drink distribution sector.
27 September 2021
Home Office Ministers and officials meet with a broad range of stakeholders including various sectors and other Government departments. The Government position 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.
The Points Based System does provide for occupations within the agri-food sector, including butchers, a range of poultry roles, and fishmongers, subject to the requirements of the system – including English language and salary – being met.
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 6 million applications under the EU Settlement Scheme and those who arrive through family routes, 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. Decisions on the future of the pilot will be taken in due course, following evaluation of the scheme.