Constituency MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, has said that the Tories’ “narrow-minded Brexit rhetoric” is to blame for a fall in the number of overseas workers coming to Scotland, and warned that this may cause damage to the economy and public services.

Latest figures from the DWP show an 18% drop in the number of National Insurance registrations by overseas workers coming to Scotland between 2015 and 2018.

Argyll and Bute has been hit with a 22% drop in migrant workers’ registrations since 2015.

The figures reinforce warnings that Argyll and Bute faces a demographic crisis that could hammer public services – as an ageing population leaves Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

All of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration.

Analysis by the Scottish Government has found that Westminster proposals to cut migration to the tens of thousands would cost the Scottish economy up to £10 billion per year by 2040.

Commenting, Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said:

“The Tory government’s hostile approach to migration is failing Argyll and Bute.

“Their anti-immigrant obsession and narrow-minded Brexit rhetoric is driving people away from Scotland, and putting vital public services here in Argyll and Bute on the line.

“The simple fact is that without inward migration our working-age population will decline, making it harder to fund vital public services like hospitals and schools in the future.

“It is now imperative for Scotland to have the powers to set an immigration policy which suits our specific needs and recognises the huge benefits migrant workers being to our economy and society.”

SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, has called on Argyll and Bute Council to make the most of its funding allocation from the Scottish Government’s £50 million Town Centre Fund.

Announced by SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay during his budget statement, the new fund aims to drive local economic growth by helping town centres fund projects such as re-purposing buildings for retail, business and community enterprise, while improving access and infrastructure.

After allocations were announced this week by the Scottish Government, it has now been confirmed that Argyll and Bute will receive a share of £1,242,000 from the new ring-fenced fund.

Commenting, SNP MSP Michael Russell said:

“This funding announcement can help transform town centres throughout Argyll and Bute.

“The health of our town centres is vital to the economic and cultural life of our communities – and this new investment can make a real difference.

“Argyll and Bute Council must now ensure that the £1,242,000 is spent wisely and ensure our local town centres reap the benefits of this huge investment.

“The SNP’s Town Centre Fund is part of a wider package of business support measures that will help drive economic activity in Argyll and Bute, helping give our local high streets a welcome boost.”