Scottish Government labels immigration plan as 'an insult to Scotland'
Scottish Goverment Migration Minister Ben Macpherson has labelled the UK Government's immigration proposals "an insult to Scotland" as they fail to offer a different approach to address the country's "distinct demographic and geographical needs".
Overnight, the UK Government unveiled its points-based immigration plans, with a promise to end a reliance on “cheap, low-skilled labour” coming to the UK.
The reforms aim to end visas for low-skilled workers and reduce the overall number of migrants, by awarding points to applicants based on specific skills, qualifications, salaries, English speaking ability and professions.
But Macpherson said the proposals "completely disregard the needs of our employers, our public services and our communities".
"There is a clear need for a fundamentally different approach to migration policy to reflect Scotland’s distinct demographic and geographical needs," he said.
"The UK Government promised a system that would deliver for all of the UK including Scotland yet these proposals do not reflect the clear evidence from employers, local authorities, universities and experts about their needs.
"Indeed there is not a single reference to Scotland in the document.
“Telling employers that they will just need to adjust will be deeply concerning to our agriculture sector; to our care sector; and to our transport sector.
"We need an evidence based approach to immigration policy which reflects the needs of our economy and has been developed through engagement with employers and communities."
Last month, the Scottish Goverment proposed “a Scottish Visa” as an additional option alongside other UK visas post-Brexit, offering a pathway to permanent settlement in Scotland with no salary threshold, nor a sponsorship role for employers.
However, just hours after the announcement, the Home Office rejected the plan, saying “immigration will remain a reserved matter”.
Macpherson said: “The Scottish Government put forward a clear, workable proposal of devolving immigration powers by introducing a Scottish Visa, which would allow Scotland to attract and retain people with the skills and attributes we need for our communities and economy to flourish.
“Our proposals have widespread support across the business and third sector communities in Scotland, and it is time the UK Government listened to those voices, instead of ploughing ahead with their deeply damaging proposals which will devastate the Scottish economy and our future prosperity.”
Newly-appointed UK Government Minister for Scotland Douglas Ross said the system would "work for Scotland and the whole of the UK".
"It will support our renowned universities and world beating high tech sector. It avoids putting up barriers to business by splitting our UK-wide system and it ensures our whole economy can continue to grow," he said.