The UK’s proposed new immigration system could halve the number of people coming to Scotland, risking labour shortages in key sectors, an independent expert group has warned.

New research shows that 50% of migrants who want to work in North Ayrshire would be ineligible to come to the UK under Westminster proposals – shutting the door on our ability to recruit talented, skilled and dedicated workers from Europe and elsewhere.

According to previous analysis by the Expert Advisory Group, 53% of roles filled by employees in Scotland earn less than £25,000, including up to 90% of jobs in the care sector.

Holyrood’s Finance Committee has also warned that demographic changes could pose risks to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.

SNP MSP Ruth Maguire said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has clearly demonstrated the UK’s reliance on key workers who have come to Scotland from all over the world.

“This pandemic has shown beyond doubt that people working in the roles which the Tories describe as ‘lower-skilled ’are absolutely vital to our communities.

“Without migration, North Ayrshire could face a demographic crisis that could hammer public services like the NHS – as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

“But despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans which will be immeasurably damaging to North Ayrshire and Scotland.

“We need the power to attract and retain the workers we need to fund our public services, and allow our economy to flourish.”