Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar has said the UK government’s proposals on immigration, published yesterday, will damage the islands’ economy, communities, NHS and public services.

The Tories plan to introduce a £30,000-a-year minimum salary threshold for EU nationals, promising to cut net migration to the UK to ‘tens of thousands’. Median gross annual pay in the Western Isles is less than £20,000. The UK government’s proposals could result in an 85% reduction in the number of European workers to Scotland – with Scottish Government modelling suggesting a fall of almost £6.8 billion a year in GDP by 2040 as a result of the Tories’ plans.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland has also demanded an urgent rethink of the plans. Andrew McRae the FSB’s Scotland Policy Chair commented, “these proposals will make it nigh impossible for the vast majority of Scottish firms to access any non-UK labour and the skills they need to grow and sustain their operations.”

Commenting, Alasdair Allan said:

“Our NHS and care sector here in the Islands have difficulties already when it comes to finding staff. These Tory proposals will cause serious damage for our public services – it is absolutely vital that we continue to attract people to live and work here.

“Tory plans on immigration will also threaten many local businesses, with a £30,000 salary threshold on EU migrants severely restricting the workforce available to firms. Comments from the Federation of Small Businesses demonstrate the growing support from organisations in and across Scotland, for a tailored migration system for Scotland. I have written to small businesses across the islands to hear about their particular needs and concerns in more detail as 29 March 2019 approaches.

“These proposals are inward-looking, driven by ideology, not by any sound economic evidence. The SNP has repeatedly made the case for a tailored approach to immigration in Scotland in order to address its distinct needs. If the UK government are intent on implementing their damaging post-Brexit immigration plans, then the Scottish Parliament must be handed control of migration powers to protect Scotland's specific interests.”

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