Controversial Tory immigration curbs are the “polar opposite” of what the north-east needs to grow, according to dismayed Aberdeen business leader.
UK Home Secretary James Cleverly announced on Monday a series of tough measures including a big increase to minimum salary for migrants.
The Conservatives also want to impose a higher minimum income for married citizens to bring their foreign spouses to Britain.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claims the move is vital to bring down net migration figures, which have remained high despite Brexit and his earlier election promises.
Under the new rules, skilled workers hoping to move to the UK from abroad would need to earn at least £38,700 per year, up by a third from the current amount.
Those hoping to bring over their partner from abroad would have to earn the same amount.
Russell Borthwick, chamber of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said the new rules would not help the north-east which has an ageing population.
Last year, we reported that the city had the steepest population decline in Scotland despite more people moving to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Mr Borthwick said: “Control of immigration policy should be devolved down to a regional level – because a one-size-fits-all approach simply does not work.
“If regions like the north-east of Scotland are to prosper in the decades ahead, then they will need to overcome the significant challenge posed by their ageing population base.
“By 2030, a fifth of our population will be of retirement age.
“By 2050, that figure will surpass a quarter. This presents a significant challenge around the human capital we require for our wider economy to function.
“This policy is the polar opposite of what the north-east of Scotland requires right now – we need more people to power our economy, not fewer.”
The move has been widely criticised by the SNP.
Westminster SNP leader Stephen Flynn, MP for Aberdeen South, described the Tory proposals as “economic and cultural vandalism”.
He said both public sector institutions and private firms “badly need migrant workers”.
It’s feared the new proposals could place further strain on the social care sector, since workers would not be able to bring over as many family members under the proposed plans.
Estimates suggest a net total of 672,000 migrants arrived in the UK in the year leading up to this June despite the Tories regularly promising to cut the total.
Mr Cleverly said the controversial new policy will deliver the “biggest ever reduction” to met migration into the UK.
He told MPs: “In total, this package will mean around 300,000 fewer people will come in future years than have come to the UK last year.”