New report finds Scotland could suffer under UK immigration proposals

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The UK Government’s immigration plans could reduce the number of workers in Scotland by up to five per cent over the next two decades, an expert panel has warned.

The Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population - which included David Bell, Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling - was asked to give independent expert advice to the Scottish Government on migration, population growth and demographic change.

The report was officially launched by Professor Bell and Professor Christina Boswell of the University of Edinburgh, who chaired the Advisory Group, alongside Ben Macpherson, Minister for Europe, Migration & International Development.

Professor David Bell at launch of migration report

L-R: Professor David Bell, Minister Ben Macpherson and Professor Christina Boswell 

Professor Bell, said: “The UK Government’s proposals for migration pose a real threat to the Scottish economy if enacted. It will be more difficult to attract migrants to low-paying industries such as food, hospitality and agriculture if the £30,000 salary cap is introduced.

“This will also mean the Scottish Government collecting less tax which will ultimately reduce its ability to provide public services.”

The Expert Group warned that UK Government proposals could harm Scotland by reducing migration by up to 50 per cent, thereby jeopardising Scotland’s economy, public services and future population growth. The report also highlighted the disproportionate impact of the UK Government’s proposed salary threshold, under which people earning less than £30,000 would not be allowed admittance to the UK.

It is estimated 63 per cent of workers in Scotland currently earn below that level, and that it would exclude a greater proportion of women than men as well as younger people at the start of their career.


Working alongside experts from the University of Glasgow, the James Hutton Institute and the University of St Andrews, Professor Bell examined how the UK’s immigration proposals may affect areas of devolved responsibility in Scotland, including economic growth, public services, and the sustainability of communities. The Group’s report focuses on four broad dimensions of change: the labour market, fiscal impacts, demographic trends, and social effects on local communities.

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said: “This independent report raises additional concerns about the effect UK Government immigration proposals will have on Scotland’s rural and suburban areas and demographics. The findings also reinforce the case for creating fair, tailor-made immigration solutions for Scotland that value all skills, work for businesses and support the delivery of public services across the country.

“We know the UK Government has not done detailed research on the specific impacts that their immigration proposals would have on Scotland. I am therefore grateful to the Expert Advisory Group for their analysis and for highlighting the value of non-UK citizens to Scotland and the vital roles they play.”

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