Seasonal worker route must be simplified – Lockhart

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​DUP EFRA Spokesperson Carla Lockhart has written to Robert Jenrick, Minister of State for Immigration at the Home Office, to raise concerns regarding the availability of seasonal workers and anomalies with the system whereby workers are classified.

Carla Lockhart said: “Certain sections of our agriculture and horticulture sectors are heavily dependent on sourcing labour through the seasonal worker route.

"It is therefore vital that the system is fit for purpose, and that this means of securing vital labour at key times is straight forward,” the Upper Bann MP added.

“It has been brought to my attention that some issues have arisen in relation to this scheme for some local companies, casting doubt over the supply of labour as we approach key times for harvesting and collecting produce.”

Upper Bann MP Carla LockhartUpper Bann MP Carla Lockhart
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart

Ms Lockhart continued: "This is largely based around how asylum and application for asylum, as well as the war in the Ukraine and how those who have fled are factored into the scheme and its KPIs.

“We need this issue clarified and the system to be agile enough to respond to new factors.

"This has been raised this week in correspondence to the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick, and I will be pushing to find solutions.

“These industries are vital components of our successful agri-food and horticulture industries and as such we must ensure the labour needed is available,” she concluded.