The Scottish Government wants powers over migration to be devolved to Scotland offering as an example arrangements between Canada and Quebec. With an ageing population and the fall out from Brexit causing many EU nationals to leave, the Scottish Government has produced a paper to look “ in detail at the impact that falling migration levels would have on Scotland’s economy and what a devolved migration policy could look like.”
In the discussion document Scotland’s Population Needs & Migration Policy Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs explains that :
“It raises issues and looks at options to explore how powers over migration could be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
“There are distinct needs in Scotland in relation to our population and our demographic sustainability, the skills and positive economic impact people who come to Scotland have, as well as the cultural and community benefits that migration can play an important role in supporting.”
The paper acknowledges the contribution EU nationals have made to our nation but also that current UK policy on migration is not in Scotland’s interest. It does not fit our needs either economically or socially. EU nationals who have come to live and work in Scotland tend to be well educated and highly skilled contributing not only to our diversity but financially by paying taxes.
” the average EU citizen in Scotland adds £10,400 to government revenue and £34,400 to GDP each year”
An ageing demographic is of particular importance in the Highlands and Islands as young people move away. The projection for population decline for the Western Isles is an excruciating -13.7% up to 2034 unless the trend is reversed. Although Orkney is not set to decline it is projected to only increase by 2.4%
The paper is critical of the lack of movement from the UK Government over its stance on the Post-Study Work Visa. It was a recommendation of the Smith Commission(2015) that the UK and Scottish Governments would work together :
“to explore the possibility of introducing formal schemes to allow international higher education students graduating from Scottish further and higher education institutions to remain in Scotland and contribute to economic activity for a defined period of time.”
It is felt that the current arrangements are too limiting and do not meet the needs of Scotland.
Fiona Hyslop said:
“Inward migration does not just bring economic benefits. By welcoming people to live, work and study in Scotland we can strengthen our society and enrich our lives.
“This paper demonstrates that it simply does not make sense to set arbitrary targets to reduce net migration, or to end free movement of people by leaving the single market.
“There is now an overwhelmingly strong case for Scotland to have the power to tailor its own migration policy to reflect its own unique circumstances. Indeed, there is a growing consensus that this is the only logical step in the face of UK Government policy which is determined to restrict the number of people who can choose to make Scotland their home.”
Watch: A tailored migration system for Scotland
Reporter: Fiona Grahame