The NFU has written to the Home Office questioning the need for the Worker Registration Scheme and the justification behind a significant increase in its application fees.

The letter follows the announcement that the application fee for the scheme, which applies to workers from the Accession States, will rise by 40%, from £50 to £70 per prospective employee from Oct 1.

The Home Office claims the increase is required to cover administration costs, but in a letter to Minister of State Tony McNulty MP the NFU has expressed surprise at the increase.

NFU vice president Meurig Raymond said: “There is already adequate legislation in place to ensure prospective workers are legitimately entitled to employment in the UK.

“This scheme does little more than duplicate administration and add cost.

“Like other sectors of the economy British agriculture and horticulture highly values the source of labour provided by the Accession States.

“This scheme makes legitimate access to that valuable resource unnecessarily bureaucratic and expensive.”

Mr Raymond said the NFU had asked the Home Office to reconsider the increase in the WRS application fee and planned to contribute fully to a review of the scheme scheduled for later in the autumn.