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MP Harriett Baldwin to act on agricultural employment
8:00am Thursday 31st May 2012 in Farming
TENBURY MP Harriett Baldwin wants to help local fruit and vegetable growers who rely on seasonal agricultural workers to pick their crops.
She also wants temporary agricultural work to be more available to local people.
Mrs Baldwin took Worcestershire growers to Whitehall to meet Employment Minister Chris Grayling to see how they might be able to hire local British workers, rather than the seasonal workers from Eastern Europe they usually rely on.
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme allows workers from as far afield as Moldova to travel to Britain to take short-term jobs which British workers are reluctant to do because they will lose benefits.
She also quizzed Home Office Minister Damian Green in the House of Commons about the current Seasonal Agricultural Workers visa scheme.
“The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme which expires in December 2013 allows farmers and growers to bring in workers from as far away as the Ukraine and Moldova,” said the MP, whose West Worcestershire constituency includes Tenbury.
“At the moment the benefit system makes it unattractive for British workers to take these jobs, even though they pay over the minimum wage and accommodation is provided,”
said Mrs Baldwin.
“People return home after a season with thousands of pounds saved.
“The introduction of Universal Credit in 2013 will allow British workers to accept seasonal work without losing benefit, as there will be a cash disregard for earnings and benefits will be withdrawn at a lower rate than now.
“Let’s use this opportunity to work with growers so that they don’t have to go as far afield as they do now to find willing and reliable labour.”
“I am pleased that the Employment Minister agreed to set up a working group between the Department for Work and Pensions and the NFU to plan ahead for the expiry of the SAW scheme.”