Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 19

17 Apr 2020

Your views wanted on: labour requirements; and supply chain issues in Coronavirus outbreak
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is seeking views on labour requirements in the food supply chain and also on food supply chain issues during the Coronavirus outbreaks.

These are two separate parliamentary inquiries – We’d like to hear from you with regard to your issues and experiences so that we can include this in our evidence to the Select Committee. All comments will be anonymised.

Labour in the food supply chain

The key questions raised by the Committee are:

  • What impact will the Government’s proposed points-based immigration system have on labour in the food supply chain? Which sectors will be most affected by a reduced ability to recruit from abroad?
  • Will investment in staff retention, productivity, technology and innovation compensate for the Government not implementing an immigration route for “lower skilled workers”?
  • What impact has the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme had on agriculture and horticulture? What should be the future of the scheme, including whether it should cover more, or different, agricultural and horticultural sectors?
  • How many seasonal workers are required in agriculture and horticulture each year, and how can this demand be reasonably met from 2021?

Deadline for comments to Wednesday 22 April

Food supply chain issues during Coronavirus outbreak

The second inquiry is looking into food supply during the Coronavirus pandemic, including how disruptions in the food supply chain should be managed. The Committee will initially identify current problems and strategies for mitigating potential risks.

The key questions raised by the Committee are:

  • Have the measures announced by the Government to mitigate the disruptions to the food supply chain caused by the pandemic been proportionate, effective and timely?
  • Are the Government and food industry doing enough to support people to access sufficient healthy food; and are any groups not having their needs met? If not, what further steps should the Government and food industry take?
  • What further impacts could the current pandemic have on the food supply chain, or individual elements of it, in the short to medium-term and what steps do industry, consumers and the Government need to take to mitigate them?
  • How effectively has the Government worked with businesses and NGOs to share information on disruptions to the supply chain and other problems, and to develop and implement solutions? How effectively have these actions been communicated to the public?

Deadline for comments to Tuesday 28 April.

We will develop our responses to both inquiries and share with you.

Defra plant health update

Defra has published an update – CLICK - which includes:

  • New national measures against Xylella fastidiosa, Emerald Ash Borer, Canker stain of Plane and Elm Yellows. Plant genera/species covered in the new regulation against X. fastidiosa are: almond, Coffea, lavender, Nerium oleander, Polygala myrtifolia, olive and rosemary.
  • Smarter Rules for Safer Food, plant passport format and guide for plants and seeds
  • New and reviewed diseases on Plant Health Risk Register
  • New Pest factsheets on tomato brown rugose fruit virus and rose rosette virus.

Furlough Scheme cut-off date extended to 19 March

New guidance confirms that the eligibility date has been extended to 19 March 2020 – the day before the scheme was announced.

Employers can claim for furloughed employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through the RTI system on or before 19 March 2020.

The scheme is due to be fully operational next week.

Updated guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK.
Updated guidance for employees is also available on GOV.UK.

Business Support site

The Coronavirus Business Support site is moving onto GOV.UK. The original Business Support website will remain available in the short term, but make sure you have the very latest information by updating URLs to

If you have any issues and queries please contact us.