UK workers fill the vacancies on Cambridgeshire farms - with furloughed staff, students and self employed taking on the jobs

The Prince of Wales has called on 'pickers who are stickers' to help farmers harvest fruit and veget

The Prince of Wales has called on 'pickers who are stickers' to help farmers harvest fruit and vegetables during the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Clarence House/PA Wire - Credit: PA

UK based workers have filled many of the seasonal jobs at one of Cambridgeshire’s biggest farms estate.

G’s Growers has trumpeted the success of a regional media recruitment campaign that has seen seasonal vacancies filled thanks to a ‘Pick for Britain’ effort.

Steve Lancaster, district operations manager of the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “We have spoken with our HR contact from Gs.

“Although she cannot give us numbers or percentages, they have had successful recruitment campaign and although they have a limited nuber of vacancies left, they have filled seasonal roles with UK based workers.”

He added: “The majority of those recruited were self- employed, students or those furloughed from various sectors.”

Mr Lancaster also revealed that his department had been successful in processing a sharp rise in the numbers applying for Universal Credit.

“The figures we have are from the start of the lockdown when there was massive unease, companies furloughing staff and help needed for the self-employed,” he said.

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His department locally showed an increase in Universal Credit claimants rising by as much as 40 per cent with most processed through telephone or email contact.

He said that in his 30 years working with the department he had never seen such a good performance from colleagues to get help to people so quickly.

Those registering were able to get advance urgent loans if they needed them “and a lot people in work or furloughed have signed on because of the drop in income”.

Mr Lancaster said the department was not checking conditionality compliance, ie actively looking for work as a condition of receiving some payment. Potential sanctions had been lifted for three months.

He said if false information had been provided, that was something “we can repair later – the important thing is to get the money to people. Our biggest priority has been to pay people on time and to process their benefit”.

Mr Lancaster said a digital approach to claims had seen better Post Covid performance figures than before and said there had been very few issues.

“You can see through the media that work and pensions are not getting negative criticism - a testament to that department,” he said.

Job vacancies locally include:

Westminster Homecare, Ongoing Care Sector

WMS Friday Bridge, Ongoing Agriculture Sector, mostly north Cambs and Lincolnshire

G’s Fresh, Ongoing Agriculture Sector

NHS, various Support Worker/Nurses – NHS Jobs

Cambridgeshire Healthcare Agency Various Healthcare Assistants