To continue reading please register or login to your OHW+ account.
The Pick for Britain campaign aimed at recruiting UK-based workers for seasonal farm roles has been scrapped by the government.
The campaign was intended to fill crop picking roles left vacant by foreign workers’ transportation difficulties as the Covid pandemic struck Europe. It consisted of advertising and a website hosted by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which directed UK workers to roles.
Instead of Pick for Britain, domestic workers will now be recruited by farms with the help of the Department of Work and Pensions, which has said it will help identify candidates who have the right skills and attributes for the roles.
It is also thought that the government will instead look to boost the number of temporary agricultural workers by pursuing its Seasonal Worker Scheme, which aims to allow access to 30,000 non-UK workers to undertake essential seasonal horticultural work.
However, there are concerns in the farming sector that this would not provide enough people even if Covid travel restrictions ease in the coming months. It is thought that up to 70,000 seasonal workers could be needed. There are also concerns that workers are facing barriers getting to the UK due to confusion between EU and UK border agencies.
Although Pick for Britain attracted a lot of interest – with tens of thousands of British people applying for thousands of roles during the first national lockdown – and received backing from the likes of Waitrose, relatively small numbers of recruits made it onto farms with estimates suggesting UK-born workers made up only between 5% and 11% of the 70,000 picking and packing roles required across the 2020 season. Nine in 10 seasonal agricultural