A POLICY statement published yesterday evening (Tuesday February 18) announced that changes to the UK's immigration system will not include a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers after Brexit.

The Government has said employers "will need to adjust".

The statement outlines plans for a new points-based system after freedom of movement ends, and says the economy needs to move away from a reliance on "cheap labour from Europe".

£25,600 will be the new minimum salary threshold for skilled migrants coming to the UK with a job offer.

The NFU has responded, expressing serious concerns about the government’s failure to recognise British food and farming’s needs within its proposed immigration policy.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, British food and farming is at the very core of our economy and any immigration policy must deliver for its needs.

“We have said repeatedly that for farm businesses it is about having the full range of skills needed – from pickers and packers to meat processors and vets – if we are to continue to deliver high quality, affordable food for the public. Failure to provide an entry route for these jobs will severely impact the farming sector.

The Government has also confirmed the expansion of the Seasonal Workers Pilot, which it says will quadruple the number of workers farms can recruit on a temporary basis from outside the EU this year to take up seasonal work.

Ms Batters said: “Although the expansion of the Seasonal Workers Scheme will ease some of the pressure for the coming season, growers remain very concerned about how they will recruit vitally important seasonal workers in future. We are urging Government to commit to delivering a full scheme for 2021, which will enable us to recruit the 70,000 seasonal workers needed on British fruit, veg and flower farms.

"It is ironic that the government on the one hand is encouraging more people to increase the amount of fruit and veg in diets, yet on the other hand making it harder for that fruit and veg to be produced in Britain.

“There are several issues within this proposed policy that need addressing, not least the incredibly short timeframe given for businesses to prepare, and we will be contributing to any consultation to ensure the views of Britain’s farmers are heard.”

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