UK Government migration policies ‘will close businesses’
By Jonathan Watt
THE UK Government has been accused of being in “cloud cuckoo land” over post-Brexit migration, as calls for a more flexible policy for the hospitality industry in Scotland are amplified.
Boris Johnson’s administration has instructed the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to open a consultation on its proposed ‘Australian-style’ points-based system and salary thresholds – which could potentially see those coming to the country to work required to earn a minimum of £30,000 after January 2021.
Those proposals have been slammed by operators and trade groups as “blunt” and “damaging”.
Stephen White, owner of La Taverna restaurant in Aviemore, told SLTN the proposals could cause hospitality businesses to shut their doors.
“The UK Government are in cloud cuckoo land over how to deal with immigration after Brexit,” he said.
“Wage rates will rise dramatically in the inevitable scramble to attract good workers.
“Businesses will close because they cannot afford to pay considerably higher wages or when customers vote with their feet and refuse to pay the higher prices which will have to be charged on the food and drink menus.”
Backing calls for immigration policy to be a devolved matter, White said: “It is very clear that the large majority of Scots want to remain in the EU and a sensible policy to allow migration for people who are coming to Scotland, with a job to go to, should be put in place.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has intensified its calls for powers over migration policy to be devolved in the wake of a report by the David Hume Institute.
The report outlined Scotland’s unique demographic challenges with high employment and a declining labour pool.
Scotland’s Europe and migration minister, Ben Macpherson, said it was “increasingly clear that the UK Government is incapable of delivering effective immigration policies that reflect’s Scotland’s values, circumstances or interests”.
And UK Hospitality’s executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said there is “growing support” for the Scottish Government’s case for a ‘Scottish visa’, which would emulate European freedom of movement.
Criticising the government’s current proposals, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) urged operators to “make their views known” before the Westminster consultation closes on November 5.
SBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said any “post-Brexit immigration plan must take into consideration the needs of our industry and others like it that will struggle unless the current proposals, particularly around salary thresholds, are not reviewed”.
Those who wish to contribute to the consultation can do so via the UK Government website.