MULTINATIONALS could be deterred from doing business in Scotland if Westminster rules stop them from bringing key staff here, the Scottish Government has said.

IT, oil and gas and renewables operations could be hampered, it is claimed.

Last year UK ministers charged the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – an independent, non-departmental public body that advises the Government – with studying the rules that allow companies to transfer their workers into UK-based positions. The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa is designed to allow managers to “easily move existing senior employees and specialists” with at least 12 months of service into vacancies here.

But hurdles currently include a salary of £41,500 or the going rate for that type of work – whichever is higher – and Scottish ministers say this needs to be slashed to keep bringing talent and investment to Scotland in the wake of Brexit.

Warning that Westminster's rules may keep multinational business out of ScotlandEurope and International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth

In its official response to the MAC, the Scottish Government calls for a “regional variation” in the rules around the ICT to help attract multinationals looking to set-up European bases.

It says: “The ICT route is an important benefit on offer to multinationals wanting to establish a European base and contributes to Scottish Government objectives for Scotland to be a leading destination for inward investment aligned with our values as a nation. Our view is that regional variation should be explored within this route. At the very least, the salary threshold should be lowered to £25,600 for intra-company transfers and £20,480 for intra-company graduate trainees in line with Skilled Worker applications for established workers and new entrants.”

The Scottish Government says tech and financial services operators face a major problem in bringing over the staff they want from India and Eastern Europe “because many workers in the UK undertaking similar roles will not earn £41,500”.

The response, published on Monday, goes on: “Employers want to avoid inflating ICT worker base salaries purely to meet the threshold as this will result in wage discrepancies between workers on the ICT route and staff based permanently in the UK. We recommend that guaranteed payments such as shift and overtime allowances, bonus pay, employer pension and national insurance contributions and in-kind benefits, such as equity shares, health insurance, school or university fees are made eligible for inclusion in the salary threshold calculation.”

It warns that “the UK is currently not experiencing the full impact of reduced EU mobility due to the current Covid-19 international travel restrictions” and goes on: “We need people to settle in Scotland, to make their homes here, to bring their families, and to contribute to our long term future prosperity.”

The MAC, which has now closed its consultation, is due to report its findings to Westminster leaders next month.

The consultation ran during the pandemic, something which Europe and International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth says she is “disappointed” with.

In her foreword, she stated: “Any move that limits migration has the potential to seriously harm Scotland’s economy, exacerbated by the fact that the ICT route is crucial for many key industries in Scotland. If anything, in light of the loss of free movement, the route has become more important. Scotland should be a leading destination for inward investment, and in order to aid this, it is our view that the skills threshold should be lower.”