IoH claims unemployment plan will undermine sector

Institute of Horticulture (IoH) president Sue Minter has written to prime minister David Cameron accusing the Government of undermining horticulture in its plans to get unemployed people working in the community.

Minter wrote: "The IoH council was dismayed to see gardening ranked as an unskilled activity along with litter picking in the coalition Government’s plans to allocate community work to the long-term unemployed."

She criticised the Department for Business & Skills for failing to acknowledge the horticulture industry and said: "No wonder this sector has problems with status and attracting trainees."

In reference to the IoH paper No Plants, no Planet, which will be sent out to all ministers, Minter said horticulture underpinned many Government objectives including food security, carbon reduction, the exercise and anti-obesity agenda, crime reduction and recovery rates in hospitals.

She added: "Because plants are often seen as ‘green wallpaper’ to our lives, no-one should doubt that without them — and the people who look after them — we would all suffocate and starve.

"And where there are volunteers and new recruits entering the industry doing less skilled work, they will need skilled horticulturalists to train them."

Minter urged Cameron not to "trivialise the horticultural industry" and said: "Rather than making comments that further damage our beleaguered sector it would be more constructive to instruct your ministers across the board to explore how horticulture can contribute to the delivery of Government objectives on a serious level and in a joined-up way that recognises the skills involved."

She invited Government ministers to meet with members of the executive of the IoH to discuss how to get the industry onto the Government agenda.

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