Immigration proposals may cut Scots workforce

The number of workers in Scotland could fall by up to five per cent over the next two decades, a study suggests.

The decline could come as the result of a proposed salary threshold for economic migrants, researchers say.

The report by the Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population, involving University researchers, highlights the impact of the UK Government’s proposals, which suggests that people from overseas earning less than £30,000 would not be admitted into the UK.

Researchers estimate that 63 per cent of workers in Scotland currently earn below that level.

They also suggest that the rules would exclude more women and young people at the start of their careers.

Impact of proposals

The report examines how the proposed changes would impact future migration flows.

Researchers looked at the potential effects for the labour market, population trends, tax revenues and public services, as well as impacts on local communities.

The impact of the proposals is likely to be felt in sectors reliant on non-UK workers who earn less than the proposed £30,000 threshold - such as accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and social care.


If the UK Government’s proposals are enacted, we are likely to see a substantial fall in net migration to Scotland over the coming decades. This poses a particular challenge for rural and remote communities, which are especially reliant on in-migration to sustain economic livelihoods and public services. We suggest that discussion on the UK’s future immigration system needs to be underpinned by more comprehensive analysis on the range of effects, across different sectors, local areas, and by gender.

Professor Christina BoswellChair of the Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population, School of Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh