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Farming leader ‘relaxed’ about UK migrant plan

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TIGHTER immigration controls being proposed by the UK government might not have too great an impact on the agriculture industry, according to the president of the Jersey Farmers’ Union.

Peter Le Maistre

Peter Le Maistre said that he was ‘reasonably relaxed’ about the move due to a planned exemption for agricultural workers.

Earlier this week Boris Johnson’s government announced plans for a ‘points-style’ post-Brexit immigration system, which would largely restrict ‘lower-skilled’ immigrants from the EU coming to the UK from next year.

The move has alarmed certain sectors, such as hospitality and the care industry, which rely heavily on foreign labour.

The UK did announce, however, that it intends to expand a scheme allowing seasonal agricultural workers to continue to come to work in the country.

Mr Le Maistre said that he had had assurance from Home Affairs Minister Len Norman that a similar scheme would be launched in Jersey. He added: ‘I am reasonably relaxed about it all, mainly because the UK government has announced that it is going to expand the scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture from 2,500 workers to 10,000.’

‘Home Affairs Minister Len Norman has said that he is happy for us to do a similar scheme to bring in the staff that we need locally. I am more concerned about what goes on here than in the UK.’

Mr Le Maistre added that efforts were still being made to persuade existing seasonal workers to return to Jersey in case the recruitment climate becomes more difficult.

‘We have already asked existing staff, who have settled status and are planning to go back home, if they want to return to Jersey next year and we hope very much that they will,’ he said.

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‘We have strong Portuguese and Polish communities here now, so that should be attractive to them. So I hope they will continue to come to Jersey for work. But it’s very difficult to say what will happen at the moment.’

Under the UK’s new regime, which is due to take effect on 1 January 2021, potential immigrants will be awarded points when then apply for a visa to work in the UK.

Points will be awarded for factors such as being able to speak English, having a job offer, having qualifications and having higher salaries.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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