Archive for April, 2020


Furloughed staff ‘can work on farms’

Government clarification offers growers a boost during the harvest and means workers can supplement their income

By Michael Barber

For those of you needing a bit of fresh air during the Corona virus lockdown.

Furloughed staff 'can work on farms'

The UK government has confirmed that furloughed workers will be able to seek alternative employment on the country’s farms if their contract allows.

The Country Land and Business Association has predicted a shortfall of up to 80,000 casual and seasonal employees for the fruit and vegetable picking season without urgent action.

To date, some 26,000 people have responded to the call for a new ‘land army’ of UK-based workers to fill the labour shortage.

The news that staff placed on furlough – whereby their salaries continue to be paid despite there temporarily being no work for them to do – can look to fill farm vacancies, could offer a further boost to the fruit and vegetable sector as it enters the crucial spring and summer harvest period.

CLA president Mark Bridgeman said: “Thousands of people are coming forward to help farmers feed the nation. This is wonderful news and shows a tremendous ‘can do’ attitude at these difficult times. Make no mistake, we still need many more to do the same.

“Up until this week, there was a lack of clarity around the rules concerning furloughed workers – specifically whether they can take up a temporary job while still under an employment contract.

“To their credit, the UK government has listened to industry warnings and has now made it clear that if you are furloughed, you should be able to undertake seasonal paid employment to supplement your income. For this to work, it is vital that employers take heed and release their furloughed staff from any contractual obligations limiting their ability to seek alternative work.”

 

Make the “advance payment” for Universal Credit a grant not a loan – so that people get the money they need, when they need it, without being pushed into debt from the very start.

Why is this important?

Hundreds of thousands of people – who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced and never thought they would have to live off benefits but now due to Coronavirus – are now being forced to claim Universal Credit in order to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. But instead of being able to get the help they need immediately, they are forced to wait for 5 weeks before they can get any money, or take out a loan called an “advanced payment” to tide them over. The government only brought the advanced payment in after campaigners had previously pointed out during its introduction stage not everybody had enough money to last the day let alone 5 weeks

It means families will have to choose between going into debt and having smaller benefits payments in the coming months, or waiting over a month for money they need to pay for food, bills and rent.

It doesn’t have to be like this. In this time of national crisis, the government could choose to end the 5 week wait by making the “advance payment” for Universal Credit a grant not a loan. This would mean families get the money they need straight away, and their full universal credit payment in the following months. MPs and experts are calling on them to do exactly this. Huge public pressure could be enough to push them to do the right thing.

People who until recently may of lived a completely different lifestyle then the one they are going to live claiming universal credit.