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Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News

LOCHHEAD SAYS TORY MP HAS TAKEN HIS EYE OFF THE BALL ON IMMIGRATION POLICY DAMAGE

20/02/2020  

MP SHOULD APOLOGISE TO 60% OF MORAY WORKERS HE CALLS ‘LOW SKILLED’ 

Richard Lochhead MSP has said that Moray’s Tory MP has shown a complete lack of understanding over the damage that the Conservative Government’s new immigration plans will cause to local economy and public services in Moray.

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

Mr Lochhead has challenged the MP to listen to local businesses and key industries, and to speak out against these new proposals which will be catastrophic for Moray.

He is also calling for Mr Ross to apologise to the 60% of Moray’s workers who earn less than the salary threshold laid down for entry to the UK after referring to people who earn below this threshold as ‘low skilled’.

Commenting the SNP MSP said:

“Our local industries, public services and the NHS are put in real danger by the Tories new immigration policy, and Moray’s Tory MP either doesn’t understand how damaging this will be to our economy or he’s taken his eye completely off the ball.

“Our MP doesn’t seem to be aware that 60% of local jobs in Moray earn less than the salary threshold of £25,600 yet Mr Ross and the Conservative Government refer to jobs below this threshold as ‘low skilled’ which is contemptuous.

“The average wage in Moray is £24,865 compared to £45,394 in London where Mr Ross and his Tory colleagues devised this policy.

“Carers, farm workers or factory workers all bring important skills and fulfil a valued role in our local economy. Mr Ross must apologise for demeaning so many workers in Moray.

“No wonder industry leaders and employers across the country have spoken out in absolute horror as to the devastating consequences these proposals would have for rural communities like Moray.

“It’s clear that he needs to go on a crash course to get himself up to speed on the workforce and demographic challenges we have here in Moray. He also needs to understand the just how important it is for our local economy that we continue to be able to attract and retain workers to this part of Scotland.

“Moray’s population is ageing faster than the national average and we need to attract people of working age to live and work locally including from abroad.

“Boris Johnson and his Government have shown that they are completely out of touch with the needs of businesses and services in Moray.

“By playing to the anti-immigration gallery and putting off people coming to Moray, Mr Ross is championing plans that will inflict huge economic damage to the communities he is supposed to represent.”  

ENDS

Notes:

  • 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.”
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