14th January 2022
Plans were announced on Christmas Eve that the Seasonal Worker visa scheme was to be extended until the end of 2024 to allow foreign workers to come to the UK for up to six months to work in the horticulture sector. There will be 30,000 visas available in 2022, with the potential to increase this number by a further 10,000 if necessary. The number of visas will begin to taper down from 2023.
The changes to the scheme followed a review of the seasonal workers pilot launched in 2019 which found the reliance on foreign labour in the sector held down wages, disincentivised investment and discouraged workers (both resident and non-resident) into these seasonal roles. Whilst Government acknowledges in the announcement the sector’s reliance on foreign workers, it states that the UK is committed to becoming a high-skilled, high-wage economy and more must be done to attract UK workers through offering training, career options, wage increases and to invest in increased automation technology.
Minister for Safe and Legal Migration, Kevin Foster, said the extension to the Seasonal Worker visa route struck “the right balance of supporting the industry while it transitions to employing and prioritising domestic workers“.