Gordon MP Richard Thomson has welcomed the publication of a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee which has condemned UK Government failures to tackle labour shortages, warning that this will shrink the food sector permanently.
Mr Thomson has regularly raised issues from North-east farmers, producers, processors and logistics firms about the restrictive nature of the UK’s immigration policies meaning vacant positions going unfilled, causing real problems across these industries.
Welcoming the report, Richard Thomson MP said:
“This is a devastating report into the UK Government’s inability or unwillingness to listen to what the people at the sharp end of these sectors were telling them and to act upon it.
“The EFRA Committee – which is chaired by a Conservative MP - has been very fair and impartial in identifying the problems and pulling no punches, even going so far as to say that the UK’s largest manufacturing sector faces permanent damage if Whitehall fails to address the lack of workers due mainly to Covid-19 and Brexit.
“I visited a pig farm in my constituency last autumn to see for myself the problems being encountered, raising these with Ministers who have consistently turned a deaf ear to the situation. Sadly, the committee seems to have encountered the same attitude and highlights the reluctance of the UK Government to engage with the industry over labour shortages.
“One of the key recommendations of the report is a review of the Skilled Workers Visa scheme including the complexity and costs faced by employers and tailoring the English language requirement to meet the needs of the sector. That is something local farmers called for months ago and I shall be raising this again with the Home Office asking for action in light of this report.”