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Ms Roseanna Cunningham MSP has said the UK Tory government’s controversial points-based immigration risks “devastating local businesses” and causing long-term harm to public services in her constituency.

Unveiled earlier this week, Boris Johnson’s plan to block most European workers from entering the UK has come under fire from employers and industry leaders.

A cross-party report by Holyrood’s Finance Committee previously warned that demographic changes could pose risks to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS, if Scotland does not have powers to grow our population.

Ms Cunningham has backed renewed calls for immigration powers to be handed to Holyrood – with the SNP’s proposals for a ‘Scottish Visa’ gaining the backing of a wide range of expert organisations, saying:

“Our local industries, public services and NHS here in Perthshire South & Kinross-shire are in danger. You simply can’t trust Boris Johnson - his government’s proposals will cause catastrophic damage for businesses in my constituency and are completely out of touch with the needs of the Scottish economy.  

“Industry and employers across the country recognise that getting the migration system right is absolutely vital for the future. As Scotland’s population grows older, we need the power to attract and retain the workers we need to fund our public services, and allow our economy to flourish.

“Some of the sectors that would be hardest hit by the Tories’ plans are areas that are particularly important here – agriculture, tourism and the care sector, amongst them.

“This is the stark reality of the Tories’ Brexit Britain. It’s now absolutely vital that the political parties and industry leaders come together to back the SNP’s plans for a tailored migration system which works for Scotland.”

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NOTES: Here are some industry responses from across a range of sectors to the UK Government’s proposals:

- Farming: Reacting to the announcement, the National Farmers’ Union Scotland has said the proposals will fail to provide enough options for seasonal and permanent non-UK workers to come work in Scotland’s vibrant food and farming sectors. NFUS President, Andrew McCornick commented: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the UK Government has disregarded the strong and consistent evidence of NFU Scotland and other businesses in the UK food and drink supply chain about the type of immigration system we need to ensure productivity and output.”

- Seafood: Reacting to the announcement, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, Jimmy Buchan, has said “We need ministers to allow scope for recruitment of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour as they are all vital to the viability of the sector. The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation added “We are concerned that these proposals as drafted could hinder the production and processing of Scottish salmon.”

- Health & Care: Reacting to the announcement, Chief Executive of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, said the health and social care sector is faced with a “triple whammy”. Commenting, he said: “We are closing the door on people coming to live and work and contribute to the economy, we are losing staff because of the toxic rhetoric around immigration coming from certain political voices south of the Border, and we are unable to build the social care economy and innovate in the way we have the potential to because of the economic impacts of these political decisions. We have to encourage people to stay. We simply are a country that needs migrants. We need a distinctive solution.”

- Hospitality: Reacting to the announcement, Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said: “The announcement of the UK government’s plans for a new points-based immigration system appears now to be the biggest threat to Scotland’s tourism industry. These plans totally disregard the skill set and importance of those who work in the sector and go against what is needed in Scotland as a whole. Scotland’s situation is unique; we have very fragile areas in our economy and it is more important than ever that we’re able to attract and retain people, particularly in the Highlands and Islands and other rural areas.  We need a differentiated system that is responsive to the specific needs of our tourism industry, our demography and our wider economy and sectors.  The impact of the UK Government’s new immigration plans will have a profound impact across local economies, particularly in rural areas.

- Food & Drink: Reacting to the announcement, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink, James Withers, has said that without continued access to EU workers “there simply isn’t the available workforce”. He added, “This is not about protecting access to cheap labour, it’s about access to talented, hard-working people whom we need to attract to Scotland.”

- Small Businesses: Reacting to the announcement, FSB Scotland Policy Chair Andrew McRae said: “When you consider that only 5% of Scottish small businesses have used the current immigration system, it’s no wonder small employers will be concerned at these plans. The system is notoriously complex and costly and few small businesses will be able to absorb high administration costs – or have the resources to prepare for new rules in ten months’ time. Scotland’s small employers have a greater reliance on EU workers than the UK average. These staff are central to the success of many businesses in Scotland and therefore it’s crucial that employers encourage them to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.”

Roseanna Cunningham MSP, 63 Glasgow Road, Perth PH2 0PE  •  01738 620540   •   Website designed & hosted by Craig Mackay Design