Government looking at SAWS as solution to labour shortage

Government looking at SAWS as solution to labour shortage

George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has said the government was “looking at options”, including the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme (SAWS), as a means of tackling the current workforce crisis.

“Some real concerns”

According to the BBC, Eustice said there are “some real concerns about how we’ll deal with that spike in demand in the two weeks up to Christmas”. He continued: “We have SAWS and we’re looking at options as to how we can change the focus of that and we hope to be able to say something on this shortly.”

SAWS is a government-run scheme that has enabled the recruitment of temporary migrants for specific roles in the horticultural sector. Since its expansion in December last year, the scheme has allowed 30,000 temporary workers to enter the UK and fill vacancies – mainly in the picking and packing of produce.

“Brexit has provided the solution”

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps told Sky News that “people that point to Brexit” as if it is “the culprit” of the current shortage are wrong. He continued: “There are very large, and even larger shortages, in other EU countries – like Poland and Germany, which clearly can’t be to do with Brexit.”

The minister went on to state that “Brexit has provided part of the solution, of giving more slots available for HGV tests.” He added: “There are twice as many tests available now as there were before the pandemic.”

Shapps added that, because of Brexit, the government has been able to change the law and alter the way UK driving tests operate “in a way [we] could not have done as part of the EU.”

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