Call for urgent action on immigration amid supply shortfalls

Worker shortages have been linked to both the coronavirus crisis and a lack of European labour after Brexit.

Call for urgent action on immigration amid supply shortfalls iStock
The UK Government has been told it 'needs to urgently address the immigration challenges'.

Scottish ministers are demanding urgent action from the UK on immigration, in a bid to address some of the problems being caused by labour shortages.

Scottish external affairs secretary Angus Robertson has written to home secretary Priti Patel calling for an “immediate discussion”.

It comes as drivers across the UK have faced lengthy queues at petrol stations, after a shortage of HGV drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

It comes on the back of growing concern about the impact the lack of HGV drivers is having on supermarket supplies, with fears Christmas shopping could be hindered without action.

Worker shortages have been linked to both the coronavirus crisis and a lack of European labour after Brexit.

Robertson told the home secretary that the UK Government “needs to urgently address the immigration challenges”.

He said: “The current immigration system is not meeting the needs of Scotland. At the moment it is not meeting the needs of sectors across the UK.”

Adding that “this position is not sustainable”, he urged the Home Secretary to work with the Scottish Government to “urgently develop and implement change”.

Robertson wants Westminster to immediately introduce a 24-month temporary workers visa.

In addition to this he said the shortage occupation list used for immigration must be reviewed – arguing that Scottish ministers should be given a formal role in determining what categories of workers are on this.

He also wants changes made to the immigration fee structure, claiming the costs involved in this were a barrier for both workers and employers.

Robertson said: “Even workers in shortage occupations are expected to pay £928 (and up to £1220 otherwise) in application fees.

“Thus, I am clear that the UK Government must reduce excessive costs of the immigration system in order to meet the needs of workers and employers amidst this labour crisis.”