House of Lords committee argues for "flexible approach" to immigration and labour

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has published its report on Brexit and the Labour Market.

Findings include that increasing reliance has been placed upon the migration statistics to formulate and judge policy even though many of the available measures are "wholly inadequate" according to the authors of the report. In particular the International Passenger Survey "cannot bear the burden placed upon it".

The Government is committed in the long term to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.

The committee said: "Using a strict annual numerical target runs the risk of causing disruption to businesses and the economy. Reducing net migration is likely to be best achieved by a flexible approach which can adapt to the needs of businesses and the labour market, in particular during any implementation period."

Horticulture has asked for a new Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme as it fears a labour shortage post-Brexit. Industry groups have met Defra and spoken to a Commons inquiry on the issue this year.

The House of Lords report includes a horticulture case study:

"Agriculture is reliant on a seasonal workforce. Around 80,000 seasonal workers are employed in horticulture and 13,000 seasonal workers in poultry. The National Farmers Union estimated the seasonal worker requirement in horticulture would increase to 95,000 by 2020.

"The West Sussex Growers Association said that without this workforce, 'it will not be possible to grow, harvest or pack many crops that are currently grown in Britain.' The Farming and Rural Issues Group South East said that filling such positions from the 'local indigenous workforce has proved to be impossible.'

"NFU's Minette Batters said there were not enough people in the country to do these jobs, citing Herefordshire as an example where there is a need for 3,500 seasonal workers but there are only 400 unemployed people in the county.

"The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme operated in the UK for 60 years until it was closed in 2014 as EU labour was thought to be sufficient to meet the needs of the sector. Representatives from the industry called for the Government to reintroduce the scheme once a new immigration regime came into force.

"The Minister for Immigration said 'there may well be situations where we need to bring people in' and gave seasonal workers in agriculture as an example, 'however, that will all be part of the settlement [with the EU].'"

An implementation period when EU workers can be employed easily is particularly important for sectors with a high turnover of staff, such as social care and nursing, the House of Lords report adds.

It will also be necessary if the Government is to achieve some of its other policy aims, such as building sufficient numbers of new homes or boosting investment in infrastructure, given the current shortages in the construction industry.

Once the Government has improved figures on the number of students who leave the UK at the end of their studies, it should no longer include students in any short-term net migration figures for public policy purposes.

In order to address the problem with the migration data the Committee recommends the Government should:

  • Use information relating to the economic activity of immigrants – such as paying tax or receiving benefits – to gain a clearer understanding of how long migrants stay in the UK.
  • Explore how information from exit checks, which have been reintroduced, can be combined with other information. This should help to address the unreliability of the International Passenger Survey (IPS).
  • Devise a better way of accounting for the departure of international students. The current approach cannot calculate, with any precision, how many students stay at the end of their degree.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Phygelius

Phygelius

Masses of colourful tubular flowers can give these plants a substantial presence in the border, says Miranda Kimberley.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses

Walls, trellises, pergolas and even trees can all be brightened up by these beautiful blooms, writes Miranda Kimberley.


Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Accurate figures are notoriously difficult to get at, but without doubt the UK imports a great deal of its ornamental plant requirement.

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Editorial ... More analysis and insight from bumper HW issue

Welcome to this bumper 72-page July edition of Horticulture Week magazine, packed with exclusive analysis, insight and expert advice on the biggest issues impacting all sectors of the UK horticulture industry right now.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles