The British government has said changes to the country's immigration system will not include a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers after Brexit and employers "will need to adjust".

A policy statement outlining plans for a new points-based system after freedom of movement ends said the economy needs to move away from a reliance on "cheap labour from Europe".

The changes are designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year, but aim to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

The "firm and fair" system will instead "attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services", according to the paper.

Industry leaders warned that the changes could "spell absolute disaster" for the care system and risk farmers, builders and hospitality businesses being hit the hardest.

Last year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the Common Travel Area will not be affected post Brexit.

The Common Travel Area, which pre-dates both countries' European Union membership, allows Irish and British citizens to move freely and reside in either jurisdiction.

They also enjoy associated rights and entitlements, including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, and the right to vote in certain elections.

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The UK's policy statement, published today, states: "We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route.

"We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation.

"Employers will need to adjust."

But the EU Settlement Scheme, designed to give EU citizens permission to stay and work in the UK after Brexit, will "provide employers with flexibility to meet labour market demands", it said.

The document added: "We recognise that these proposals represent significant change for employers in the UK and we will deliver a comprehensive programme of communication and engagement in the coming months.

"We will keep labour market data under careful scrutiny to monitor any pressures in key sectors."

Employers will have until 1 January 2021 to meet the requirements and ensure their staff have a right to work in the UK.

The decision comes after campaigners warned that putting up barriers on hiring staff from overseas could cause "huge difficulties" in social care and may prevent carers being able to come to the UK to work.

Last month, independent adviser the Migration Advisory Committee said replacing freedom of movement with a points-based immigration system after Brexit could cut economic growth and may only lead to small improvements in standards of living.

The government's proposed overhaul of migration rules could have "zero effect" on providing more British jobs for British workers, it was also suggested.

Under the plans, the UK will have "full control over who comes to this country" for the "first time in decades, the paper pledged.

EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally but "top priority" will be given to those with "the highest skills and the greatest talents", like scientists, engineers and academics, the paper said.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a tweet that the policy is offensive in principle.

The policy paper states that the salary threshold for skilled migrants will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer.

Described in the paper as "simple, effective and flexible", people who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.

Points will be awarded for key requirements such as being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.

Other points will be awarded for certain qualifications and if there is a shortage in a particular occupation.

Fees for work visas are expected to remain largely the same at around £1,200.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned care, construction, hospitality, food and drink companies could be most affected by the changes.

Industry leaders hit out at the lack of provision for low-paid workers in the proposals while lawyers urged the government "not to turn the tap off overnight" if companies struggle to recruit staff under the new system.