To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the seasonal workers visa scheme from six to nine months to include tree production and other ornamental horticulture workers.
Defra is considering the latest data and working with the ornamental horticulture production industry to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements. We will continue to monitor the labour needs of the ornamental horticulture sector and help to ensure that these are met.
The Seasonal Workers Pilot was expanded for 2021, from 10,000 to 30,000 visas, for workers to come to the UK for up to six months to pick and package fruit and vegetables on our farms.
The Government has announced that the seasonal worker visa route will be extended to 2024 to allow overseas workers to come to the UK for up to six months to harvest both edible and ornamental crops. 30,000 visas will be available. This will be kept under review with the potential to increase by 10,000 visas if necessary.