Written evidence submitted by NFU (LS0061)
NFU Supplementary Evidence – Labour in the Supply Chain
Evidence and impacts of horticulture seasonal labour shortages 2021
Industry evidence gathered through 2021 has identified labour shortages, crop losses and a reduction in planting for 2022. The evidence below has been collated from NFU monthly surveys of the main labour providers and largest recruiters, a ‘mid season’ survey of the wider NFU membership, plus evidence of 2022 production intentions gathered from crop associations.
- 2021 labour shortages and impacts
- The average shortage of workers to the end of September is 18.8%. This is the average shortfall identified from the NFU labour provider survey (15.7%) and mid-season survey (21.9%).
- Crop wastage in 2021, so far, is estimated at £61.6m. This is identified using wastage data in the mid season survey (£13.7m) as a direct result of labour shortages. And averaging up across the industry. Further crop losses are expected, particularly in the top fruit and winter veg sectors to the end of the year.
- The ‘returnee’ rate for EU (settled/pre-settled) workers in 2021 is 35.9%. This is the average of the NFU labour provider survey (31.1%) and the mid-season survey (41.1%).
- The proportion of domestic workers employed in 2021 is 5%. This is the average of the NFU labour provider survey (1.1%) and the mid-season survey (8.9%). This is a fall on 2020 despite concerted efforts to work with DWP and jobcentres throughout the year.
- Average hourly wage for a seasonal worker is £10.22, according to the NFU mid season labour survey. An NFU survey of the daffodil sector earlier this year revealed an average hourly rate of £12.08, yet they still experienced shortages of 33% of the workforce.
- 2022 planting decisions
- A statement by the cucumber growers association states that plantings will be down 30% in 2022 due to a combination of labour shortages and high gas prices.
- Feedback from NFU members in the Lincolnshire area indicate an average reduction of vegetable area of 25% in 2022, directly in response to labour challenges.
- Data collated from the crop associations, by the British Growers Association, indicates an average reduction of area by 9.2% across 11 crop groups, with some ceasing production altogether and others reducing by up to 35%.
- Estimated shortages in 2022
With a total requirement of 70,000 seasonal workers, and an expected ‘returnee rate’ from EU nationals with settled/pre-settled status being no more than 40%, it is estimated there will be a workforce shortage above 25,000 in 2022.
- Expected number of EU settled status workers (40% of the 2021 level) = 8,700
- Expected number of domestic workers (optimistic estimate of 8%) = 5,600
- Seasonal Pilot workers (at current scheme level) = 30,000
- Total number of seasonal workers recruited = 44,300
- Estimated shortage in 2022 = 25,700
To mitigate this shortfall, the seasonal worker scheme would need to be approximately 55,700.