Commenting on the government’s announcement on the seasonal workers scheme, Horticultural Trades Association Director of Policy & Communications, James Clark said:
“The recognition and inclusion of ornamental in to the seasonal workers scheme is really positive news, as is the certainty of a three year period for the scheme to run. I’m pleased that government have heard our calls for this change. Our research showed that a 3,000 increase in numbers just for the ornamental sector was needed and while the reference to a potential 10,000 extra for the whole scheme is encouraging, it is still uncertain and the details on what evidence is required to initiate this extra number, is unknown. We need that clarity as soon as possible from government. Without this it means that ornamental growers will be competing with edible growers for this much needed labour, pushing up costs and unable to properly plan for their businesses.
We will re-engage with government in the new year, not least to make the case for our tree producer members – the current six month visa scheme hasn’t been amended and will likely disadvantage these growers. We also need to see more detail on what the government are considering around pay levels for seasonal workers and the potential impact this will have. Progress early in the new year on this specific information is crucial to allow the UK’s £1.6bn ornamental production sector to be competitive, develop and grow”.