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A change of policy from the government means that county vegetable growers will get the labour they need next year to stop food from rotting in Worcestershire’s fields, says MP Peter Luff who has been campaigning on the issue for around two years.
Peter has welcomed the Government’s decision not to scrap the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme (SAWS) but instead to increase significantly the number of places available to students from Romania and Bulgaria.

Only last week he met senior representatives of the UK Border Agency to argue for the scheme to be upgraded. Peter said that the retention of the scheme on an increased scale was vital for the success of the horticultural industry of Worcestershire.

The Home Office had been winding down the long-standing scheme which had allowed students from Eastern European countries outside the EU to come to Britain for a short period as agricultural workers. Recently it has been restricted to students from the two newest countries to join the EU – Bulgaria and Romania.

However, in a statement today to the House of Commons, Immigration Minister Phil Woolas MP announced that the quota for the number of Bulgarian and Romanian workers admitted under SAWS will be increased by 5,000 places next year to 21,250.

Commenting Peter said:

“I am absolutely delighted that the Government has seen sense and decided not to scrap the scheme. SAWS has been vital for the horticultural industry in the UK.

“Although the scheme is now only limited to just two EU members – Bulgaria and Romania - I am very pleased that it has been extended in terms of the numbers of students permitted to come to the UK.

“I understand that the government will now review the scheme to look at what can be done to maintain it in the future – foe example by linking it more explicitly with the training and examination of the students who participate while they are in the UK.

“As the scheme was run down, growers in my constituency, and across the country, were struggling to find the labour to pick their produce. I congratulate the Immigration Minister for arriving at this sensible decision and I look forward to working with him to sustain the scheme into the future.”

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