There is coverage in The i today reporting that only £16,500 of government money has been spent on the campaign to recruit fruit pickers to bring in this year’s harvest. The piece asserts this is too low and demonstrates government has not done enough to secure seasonal agricultural labour and prevent food shortages in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
We have been working hard to ensure farmers have the labour they need over the harvest, which is why we created the Pick for Britain website with industry to bring together employers and those looking for seasonal work.
There has been a great response so far– and in fact, growers who advertised jobs on the Pick for Britain hub report they have now recruited the numbers of workers they needed for their farms.
The Pick for Britain website is not run by Defra so incurs no cost, and the Defra budget for future spending on the campaign sits at £83,500. We’ve secured co-investment from our partners and this has ensured that the successful campaign has had a relatively small cost for the Government.
A Defra spokesperson said:
“Seasonal workers are essential to help farmers and growers bring in the harvest every year, which is why we’ve been working hard to ensure farmers and growers have the support they need during this time - connecting potential workers with job opportunities via the Pick for Britain hub we developed with industry.
“There has been strong interest in these opportunities across the country and a number of growers have already signed up the new recruits they needed for their farms. We encourage people to keep checking the Pick for Britain website for new vacancies as the season progresses.”
The harvest season will continue through late summer and into autumn. Defra will continue to fund the Pick for Britain campaign and will work with industry to highlight potential labour gaps as early as possible.