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News that the SAWS pilot has been extended for a further 12 months, allowing recruitment of up to 10,000 non-EU workers in 2020, has left confusion for farmers about labour provision in 2021.

Following the government’s announcements about a new points-based immigration policy, HOPS is calling for clarity from the government on how farmers can recruit seasonal labour post-2020 and urging farmers to contact their local MP.

The immigration policy with its salary requirements that comes into effect from 1 January 2021 will exclude most seasonal workers from being able to work in the UK due to the seasonality of the work available. While the SAWS pilot suggests there will be an alternative method for recruiting future seasonal workers, growers are concerned that this scheme will not be confirmed until 2021 – leaving it too late to secure labour for that year.

HOPS Operations Director Sarah Boparan said: “It is essential that the government confirm the method in which farmers can recruit the 70,000+ seasonal workers needed for British fruit, veg and flower farms in 2021.

“We understand the SAWS scheme is in a trial period but the industry needs answers now to be able to plan crops. We urge all farmers to contact their local MP and to ask for clarity.

“Labour suppliers take orders for the following year every autumn but there is currently no indication from the government about the process the industry needs to follow to allow seasonal workers into the UK in 2021.

“The industry needs reassurances and information to be able to operate effectively and meet the demands of supplying British fruit and veg.”

HOPS is encouraging all seasonal workers to apply for settled or pre-settled status before the deadlines to ensure they can work in the UK in 2021.

More information about the pre-settled and settled status requirements is here.