23 Jun 2022
As announced in the Government Food Strategy, the government will release the additional provision of 10,000 visas under the Seasonal Worker Visa Route, with 2,000 of these going to the poultry sector. This means that in total 40,000 visas will be made available for seasonal workers in 2022, providing labour for food businesses across the UK.
There were 277,069 work-related visas granted in the year ending March 2022 (including dependants). This was a 129% increase on the year ending March 2021 and is 50% higher than in the year ending March 2020.
Skilled work, which accounts for 66% of work-related visas granted, saw the largest growth in visa numbers from the year ending March 2020 and increased by 72,208 or 66%. High value, Skilled worker, Temporary worker and Other work visas and exemptions routes all rose compared to the previous year. These increases will in part reflect a recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Skilled work and Temporary work visas are also now substantially higher than the pre-COVID 19 level in 2019.
There were 73,400 grants to Skilled worker visas and 75,963 grants to Skilled worker Health & Care visas. Combined, these account for 54% of all work visas.
‘Seasonal Workers’ made up over half (53%) of all Temporary work grants, and saw a large increase, up from 10,656 in the previous year to 32,005 (+200%). This route came into effect in Q1 2019, and the growth in this route reflect the quota increases for the Seasonal Worker visa, which increased from 2,500 in 2019 to a current quota of 30,000 visas in 2022
As noted by the Committee, the number of visas will be tapered from 2023, to account for an increased focus on UK resident workers and automation. Defra will bring forward further proposals in due course on additional ways to support the sector, as well as progressing recommendations from the automation review.
The government has not demonstrated a strong understanding of the labour shortages facing the food and farming sector, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee said today.
In its response published today to the committee’s labour shortages report published in April, the government does not accept the committee’s recommendation to lower the English language requirement for Skilled Worker Visa applicants in the food and farming sector such as butchers. It also rejects the committee’s recommendation to undertake a “lessons learnt” exercise on the temporary short-term visa schemes established last autumn. The government also turns down the committee’s recommendation to make the Seasonal Workers Pilot a permanent scheme.
A link to the Government Response to Labour Shortages Report can be found here: HC 412 Government Reponse to Labour Shortages Report
22 Jun 2022