Agricultural Wages Board to be abolished

DEFRA Secretary Caroline has confirmed that the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is to be abolished.

In a statement on Defra’s ‘arm’s length bodies on Thursday, Mrs Spelman announced that she will be:

  • Abolishing the AWB, the 15 Agricultural Wages Committees, the 16 Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation;
  • Withdrawing Defra funding from the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC);
  • Abolishing the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution;
  • Abolishing the Inland Waterways Advisory Council; and
  • Abolishing the Commons Commissioners.

The AWB and its associated committees have been in place since 1948 but their abolition comes as no surprise as Defra continues to cut back on its arm’s length bodies. The policy was a Tory manifesto commitment.

The move means agricultural workers in England and Wales will be brought within scope of the National Minimum Wages Act. Defra said it would agree with the Welsh Assembly Government the measures to bring about the abolition of the AWB.

Mrs Spelman announced the abolition of the Commission for Rural Communities and the merger of Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency at the end of June.

Defra has around 90 arm’s length bodies. Mrs Spelman said many were set up at a time when Government’s understanding of and engagement with environmental issues was ‘less mainstream’.

“Most of the things that these bodies do is now part of what the Government does as a matter of course, others are now no longer necessary,” she said.

“This Government is committed to being the greenest Government ever and the Structural Reform Plan published last week sets out how Defra will play its part in achieving this.  Reducing the deficit is priority for the Government and all departments are playing their part in making efficiency savings.

 “The effective delivery of public services is essential and I am committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Defra’s public bodies and to reducing their numbers and costs. 

“Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday Government business.”

She said the arm’s length body review will make Defra a ‘leaner, stronger department – with a renewed and clearer focus on its key priorities and a simplified structure for delivering those priorities; underpinned by a robust, credible and efficient science base’.

She promised to ‘look closely’ at other Defra arm’s length bodies and will make any further announcements ‘as appropriate’.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Not before time.
    Don't know who were on these Boards but they never set anything like realistic wages.
    Time for Agriculture to move into the 21st century with employment offering substantially more money and benefits than the derisory, and pitiful, previous wage scales.
    Can hear the 'we can't afford it' bleating from farmers now. The answer is very simple..stop taking prices and start demanding far higher prices or sell up while there are still buyers out there.

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  • Demand far higher prices. Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

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  • This annoncement is a disgrace, and IF the AWB is abolished, the NFU and individual farmers may live to regret getting their political wing to stick the boot into their highly skilled and cnsiencious workers.
    Even Thatcher went out to consultation when the Tories wanted to abolish the Board last time - and received thousands of objections..

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  • Fantastic new. AWB should have been abolished when minimum wages were set. many farmers already pay far high salaries for skilled and loyal farm workers but then get caught out for long term sick pay when no other industry has to pay this. Excellent news for the industry. Proof that NFU lobbying works.

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  • Many farmers currently ignore this anyway, simply by paying in an incomparable manner. Most insist on 6 day weeks, with monthly salaries and no overtime rate, despite the unacceptably long hours worked by employees. At least the minimum wage is simpler for the employee to understand and argue against when he gets a grossly unfair deal from the employer!

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  • The AWB was a nightmare of ridiculous clauses and rules. It should now be much more straight forward. Farmers are free to set their own wage rates and if they don't set them high enough they will not get the skilled workers - their choice

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  • Looks like the powers that be have come up with the solution of what to grow to get a good return! "Peanuts" that is what some will use for pay and guess what we will end up with doing the work to grow them, Well done, we have F****** every other industry this country was proud of, why don't we starve the rest of the country to cap it off.
    The world seems to be run by d**kheads behind desks who may run 4x4's but wouldn't know a farm if they looked over the large wall surrounding their holiday home whilst spending their two weeks a year improving the local economy!

    Need I go on.........

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  • Not before time. The industry now will be able to move forward and pay proper wage rates.For too long many employers have used the so called minimum rates in the various categories as maximum rates.

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  • this is shocking farm workers are the only staff that will give 24 hours a day service to the farmer as they see it as there life and the wages are never enough for he dangers farm workers face everyday farming is very hard way of life due to poor prices and rissing cost

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  • What is the position with regard to all the other benefits provided - ag workers sick pay - who will regulate these?

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