UK Home Office criticised for decision on migrant agriculture worker review

The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration in the UK has criticised the government’s failure to publish a review of the “seasonal workers route”, the scheme in which multiple media investigations and NGO reports have identified labour exploitation and abuse of migrant workers.

The Home Office’s decision not to publish a promised review of the scheme came in a 20 September letter to NGOs – including FairSquare – and other experts from the UK and countries of migrant workers’ origin, who had originally written to the minister in May calling for stronger controls on recruitment processes and other areas to protect migrant workers.

Speaking to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Independent, David Neal, the government-appointed independent chief inspector of borders and immigration said that concerns about exploitation in the seasonal workers scheme, he said, “make transparency particularly important… It would be very disappointing if, after accepting my recommendation [to publish a review of the scheme] in full, the Home Office did not fulfil its commitment.” The Home Office had said, in response to Mr Neal’s inspection, that it would publish the review by April 2023.

James Lynch, co-director of FairSquare, said the government’s decision to drop the review was “bizarre and deeply disappointing”. He said:

“There is an urgent need for a full and transparent review of the scheme, to identify as a priority how to make British agriculture safer for migrant workers.”

Read the full exchange of letters here: