UK Confirms No New Seasonal Workers Scheme

By Editorial 17 September, 2013

UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper has confirmed that the Government does not intend to open any new schemes to allow nationals from outside the European Economic Area to be employed in Britain as seasonal agricultural workers.

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) currently allows up to 21,250 migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria to work in the horticultural industry for up to six months at a time. The scheme was originally open to non-EEA nationals, but has been restricted to Bulgaria and Romania since 2007, with a view to phasing it out as the EEA expanded. The SAWS is due to come to an end from the beginning of 2014, when EU restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania will be lifted.

According to Harper, in a written ministerial statement, the UK Government believes that current unemployment in the UK and the European Union means that there should be sufficient workers from within those labor markets to meet the needs of the industry. He explained that the independent Migration Advisory Committee took the view that the closure of the SAWS might have a short-term impact on labor supply, but that this might change in the future and that a new SAWS would amount to preferential treatment for horticulture.

Harper further explained that UK growers currently recruit about a third of their seasonal workers from Bulgaria and Romania, and about a half from countries that joined the European Union in 2004. However, he added that a pilot scheme to find work in farming for unemployed UK residents "has shown encouraging results."

He added that the Government also intends not to replace a Sector Based Scheme in the food processing sector which he said is not heavily used.

Tags: Bulgaria | Romania | United Kingdom | Food | European Union (EU) | Employment | Expats | Working Abroad | Europe | Work | Working Abroad | Working Abroad |


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