The Conservative government’s changes to immigration laws could pose a ‘triple threat’ to the Scottish care sector and the wider economy, Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill has warned.
In basing the UK’s immigration legislation on the Australian points-based system, Westminster is doing significant damage to Scottish social care systems, he said.
The average wage paid in the Scottish care sector is £17,500, but under the new system even ‘shortage occupation’ workers like nurses will have to earn £20,480 per year to earn a visa.
Macaskill said: “We are faced with a triple whammy. 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.”
Other social care leaders responded in “dismay” to new immigration rules last week, warning that they will “spell disaster” for the sector.
The new points-based system – to be introduced from January 2021 – is intended to end dependence on “cheap labour from Europe”, the government said.
The system will deny visas to so-called “low-skilled” workers and the salary threshold for migrants will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600.