Migrant Workers: Food

Home Office written question – answered on 20th September 2021.

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Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will introduce a 12-month covid-19 recovery visa for people involved in the food and drinks sector supply chains.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government position remains we will not be introducing a short-term visa route allowing recruitment at or near the minimum wage with no work-based training requirements, such as the ‘Covid recovery visa’ which has been suggested.

Most of the solutions for labour shortages are likely to be driven by industry, with a big push towards improving pay, conditions and diversity needed. This includes business facing recruitment issues engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions about the support they can provide, rather than turning to the Home Office for immigration based solutions instead.

The UK labour market has changed rapidly in recent months and we need time to monitor the impact of the new Skilled Worker route, as well as how the economy recovers post-Covid 19 including those individuals who will begin returning to the labour market from the furlough scheme.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found some roles in the food production, supply and agricultural sectors meet the RQF3 skills threshold for the Skilled Worker route so are eligible to be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa and can therefore be recruited on global basis. The threshold was previously set at degree-level jobs. Modelling by the MAC suggests the new, broader RQF3 threshold strikes a reasonable balance between controlling immigration and business access to labour.

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