Commenting on the announcement from Defra that the seasonal workers pilot scheme extension will not include ornamental horticulture, James Clark – Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) said:
“The ornamental horticulture industry has been totally ignored by Government in this announcement. This is a sector that generates over £1.5bn in GDP per annum, underpinning the much wider £24bn ornamental horticulture industry. The Government has monumentally failed to recognise our sector as a key UK production industry, it has ignored our needs.
We are committed to increasing UK production, business owners are investing in their businesses, but we need the necessary labour to support this expansion. We estimate that 9,400 of those employed in the sector are seasonal workers, of which between 4,500 and 7,000 do not live in the UK year-round. This would have been a modest part of the overall expansion of the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme and given a huge boost to our industry. We are committed to working with the Government on a Horticulture Strategy to help deliver economic growth, but this statement from Government does little to build our confidence. We will be taking this up with Defra officials and Ministers to get the ornamental sector included in any future review.”