British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association

Meat industry sounds alarm on government’s anti-growth migration rule

Nick Allen, Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Association has written to the Home Secretary James Cleverly to outline the damage to the UK meat and wider food industry that the new new one-size-fits-all £38,700 immigration rule will inflict.

Forcing companies to take on overseas butchers at £38,700 represents a 49% increase to current salary levels which sit around £26,200 for a worker in the UK. This would instantly spark a raft of Equal Pay Claims under the Equality Act 2010, as existing British workers have a legal right to demand to be paid an equal salary for the same work as their newly arrived overseas colleagues.

That kind of increase in overheads across the whole workforce simply cannot be absorbed when firms are already working to tiny margins around of 2%. Instead, it will stoke food price inflation and be passed on to the British consumer.

In his letter Nick Allen explains: “Unfortunately, there is a perception that UK businesses utilise migrant labour as a “cheaper option” to UK-based labour. This is simply not the case. The skilled worker route offers our industry access to labour that we are unable to source within the UK and is already at a significantly higher cost than recruiting a UK-based worker.”

If companies have to continue to bring in overseas workers, British consumers will be hit with steeply rising costs from some of the key food, retail, hospitality and manufacturing sectors and the UK will become less competitive on the international export market.

If companies can recruit neither British nor overseas workers they’re left with two choices – contract their business and reduce the amount of food they produce, or import more from abroad. Either way the UK farming industry would take a long-term systemic hit.

Initially we would see animal welfare issues as livestock starts backing-up on farms with not enough processing workers to handle the volume. This would cause farmers to produce less over time, and many would go out of business. It would not only be anti-growth for UK Plc. and damaging for the economy, but it would seriously injure Britain’s food security.

And yet Government is plowing ahead with this seismic policy change without having produced any impact assessment of the damage it could cause.

Nick Allen’s request to the Home Secretary is this: “We therefore ask that the Home Office ask the Migratory Advisory Committee to add butchers onto the Immigration Salary List, which would mean that they could apply the lower salary thresholds. This would still mean an overseas worker would be earning £30,960 which is a considerable increase from the current £26,200. Even this lower increase in the threshold will have a damaging impact for the businesses that have to find the extra money and will stoke food price inflation as higher overhead costs are passed-on.”

About BMPA

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is the leading trade association for the meat and meat products industry in the UK.

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