Business chief in Edinburgh

CBI chief Fairbairn: ‘immigration rules will hit Scotland’

Carolyn Fairbairn CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn addresses members lunch in Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden)


Scotland would suffer from plans for the immigration system after Brexit, according to the director general of the CBI.

A UK government consultation includes a minimum £30,000 salary for skilled migrants seeking five-year visas. The Home Office has said its plans would allow the UK to attract talented workers and deliver on the Brexit vote.

CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn told the organisation’s annual lunch in Edinburgh that she believed skilled workers would have to be recruited at lower pay levels and that Scotland has a particular problem with an ageing workforce.

She said: “The trouble with the current immigration plan the government has put forward is it doesn’t work for the whole country, and it certainly doesn’t work for Scotland.”

In 20 years time, the CBI expects only one third of the Scottish population to be of working age, causing “profound implications for Scotland, its tax base and public services.

“We need the flexibility that allows Scotland to have the people it needs to grow. Scotland has particularly unusual problem in terms of a falling working age population.

“For many people wanting to come and work in Scotland the salaries are well below that, so we are looking for change and we are looking for a new immigration model that works for the whole country.”

On income taxes, Ms Fairbairn warned the Scottish government to ensure it did not deter investors.

“The way to raise productivity is through investment. That balance has to be got right,” she said. “Let’s do what we can to keep Scotland on the map for being a great investment destination. If you pass that tipping point people won’t come.”

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