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EU migrant salary threshold should be lowered, says Scottish Secretary

Concerns have been raised that the £30,000 threshold is too high.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that the threshold is too high (Steve Parsons/PA)
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that the threshold is too high (Steve Parsons/PA)

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said the UK Government’s proposed £30,000 salary threshold for EU migrants is too high and should be lowered.

The figure, set out in the Government’s White Paper on immigration published in December, would mean EU workers would have to earn a minimum salary of £30,000 when entering the UK.

It is the same threshold currently set for non-EU citizens working in Britain.

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Alister Jack succeeded David Mundell as Scottish Secretary when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister last week (Aaron Chown/PA)

However, concerns have been raised over the threshold being set well above the average salary in different parts of the UK – including in Scotland where it is around £24,000.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Jack said he would urge Home Secretary Priti Patel to agree to lower the threshold.

“I am feeding into the review and my belief is that £30,000 is too high. It might work in London but it doesn’t work outside London,” said Mr Jack.

“And it’s not just farming, it’s not just the seasonal workers scheme which I think we should increase, it also affects the NHS, it affects construction, it affects care workers and lots of other sectors.

“I don’t think a solution that’s done by geography or by sector is right because you’ll always forget an area or you’ll forget a sector.

“I think we need to do a financial figure, but it’s got to be a lot less than £30,000.”

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Mr Jack said he would make the case to new Home Secretary Priti Patel for lowering the threshold (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Scottish Government has previously voiced its support for Scotland to have a separate immigration system to that of the UK in order to better meet workforce needs in the country.

In June, the Scottish Conservatives also called for a more flexible approach to be taken in order to recognise the needs of Scotland’s economy after the UK leaves the European Union.

They said UK immigration policy must recognise sectors such as farming, fish processing, hospitality and social care heavily rely on foreign labour.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We want to understand the immigration needs of the whole of the UK, which is why we have asked the Migration Advisory Committee to review the evidence around salary thresholds by January 2020.”

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