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Government announces ‘Pick for Britain’ initiative to help with this year’s harvest

19 May 2020

By Gareth Jones, Newgate Public Affairs

Environment Secretary George Eustice said that British people will be required to "lend a hand" in bringing in this summer's fruit and vegetables, after a significant drop in migrant workers is expected for the harvest – with only one third of the normal numbers expected to be  here. He said that UK citizens interested in signing up for the work can now register their interest on a 'Pick for Britain' website. He added that currently furloughed employees may be interested in taking part in the scheme as a way to supplement their income. 

Angela McLean, the UK Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser, then ran through latest trends, noting there had been "steady decline" in deaths over the past month, although the number of hospital admissions had not fallen as much in recent days and said that scientists don't have an immediate answer to why this was the case. 

Earlier in the day, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak warned that there would not be an “immediate economic bounce back” when the lockdown is lifted.  Speaking to the Lords economic committee he said that the country is facing “a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen” adding that the “jury is out” on the “degree of long-term [economic] scarring” caused by the response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Treasury also provided more details – and an increase in the maximum state-backed loan from £50m to £200m following a low level of take up of the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme.  However, those businesses which accept more than £50m will be prevented from paying cash bonuses to executive or dividends to shareholders unless previously agreed.

Finally, the government is considering the idea of an extra bank holiday in October, according to Visit Britain the move would help the UK tourism industry recover from the crisis. The government said it was looking at this proposal and would respond in due course.