‘Home Office failing to recognise labour market difficulties’ - Lockhart

Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has called on Home Secretary Rt Hon Priti Patel MP to urgently adopt a more flexible approach to immigration policy to allow shortages in the agri-food labour market to be addressed.

As Westminster DUP Agriculture Spokesperson, the MP had written to the Home Secretary seeking changes to the current rules, in response to serious employee shortages at some local agri-food processors.

Carla Lockhart said:“I have been engaging with a range of local agri-food processors who are operating substantially below optimum employment levels because of the new immigration rules in place. This is having a serious impact on the operation and output of these businesses, which in turn is resulting in supply chain disruption right through to farm gate. It is a problem these firms, and the industry as a whole, doesn’t need.

“I had written to the Home Secretary seeking flexibility in light of the pressures faced in the agri-food processing sector. In the response received this week, there is no recognition of the severity of the problem. Instead the Government seem intent on closing their eyes to the problem in the hope that a solution will appear as if by magic. That simply will not happen.

“We need the Government to see the impact the current rigid policy is having, and respond by taking short term measures that can address immediate pressures. I have written again to the Home Secretary advocating this, and will be raising this matter in the House as soon as possible.”