Sir, The most recent survey of the horticulture industry shows there are approximately 75,000 non-UK workers employed seasonally in the UK. G’s employs 2,500 of them - so that’s one 30th.
We recruit in Romania and Bulgaria, and since June of last year we’ve had to invest much more time and money in attracting and retaining our valuable workforce.
We need to provide our returners and new applicants with the confidence their future is secure as soon as we can before their heads are turned to work elsewhere. To do this, we need a tried and tested work permit scheme from 2017 that allows restricted access to the most talented people from anywhere in the world to work in seasonal roles.
If we can’t recruit people, there is a risk to UK production. Growers will choose to invest in highly mechanised arable cropping in the UK and move those products of a delicate nature, such as strawberries, asparagus and spring onions, offshore. And financially, it means an increase in the cost of food and a loss of up to £400m - the estimated economic contribution of seasonal workers.
Beverly Dixon, HR director, G’s Group