Pigs: Slaughterhouses

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 25th October 2021.

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Photo of Simon Jupp Simon Jupp Conservative, East Devon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to tackle labour shortages in the pig processing industry.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has announced a package of measures to support the pig industry. These measures come in recognition of the unique temporary circumstances farmers are facing, brought about by the global economy responding to the impacts of the pandemic, the loss of the Chinese export market for some processors and the global pressures facing supply chains worldwide.

From November 2021, these measures include allowing up to 800 temporary pig butchers to enter the UK to work for six months. This temporary adjustment is in addition to foreign butchers already being eligible to apply to come to the UK through the Skilled Worker Route as part of the point-based immigration system.

The temporary visas are not a long-term solution and businesses must make long term investments in the UK domestic workforce to build a high-wage, high-skill economy, instead of relying on overseas labour. The Government expects the pork sector to encourage better training offers, career options and wage increases to ensure that the sector draws on the large domestic labour pool in the UK, as well as investing in technology across the industry.

To support these efforts, Defra is working with industry and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and farming sectors among UK workers. All pig farming and processing businesses are encouraged to advertise roles through DWP's Find A Job website, where they can upload and manage their vacancies. The DWP does not charge for this service and it is available across the United Kingdom.

In 2021 and beyond, the pig industry will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 5.3 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme and EU nationals who have settled status can continue to travel to the UK to do seasonal work in the pig processing sector in 2021.

Defra is also working closely with the Home Office to ensure there is a long-term strategy for the food and farming workforce beyond 2021.

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