Letter to Home Secretary

Meeting requested to discuss Scotland’s unique migration needs.

Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop has written to Sajid Javid on his appointment as Home Secretary.

Ms Hyslop highlighted the key issues in relation to Scotland’s unique population needs and has requested a meeting with Mr Javid to discuss these further.

Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Sajid

I write to congratulate you on your new position as Home Secretary and look forward to working with you.

I am aware you will be spending time being briefed on your new responsibilities and I would like to take this opportunity to outline some matters in relation to Scotland’s population needs which deserve your immediate attention.

Over the past 12 months the Scottish Government has published a series of reports and evidence, including to the Migration Advisory Committee, demonstrating the significant positive impact migrants make to Scotland’s economy, our society and our communities and, as a result, the critical importance of migration to Scotland’s future prosperity.

I attach these published documents for your reference, including our evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee, our discussion paper entitled Scotland’s population and migration policy: Discussion paper on evidence, policy and powers for the Scottish Parliament and our paper published in January this year entitled Scotland’s Place in Europe:  People, Jobs and Investment.

Scotland is particularly vulnerable to any reduction in inward migration because of our distinct demographics. Across Scotland, as a whole population growth is projected to be driven entirely by migration with over a third of Scotland’s local authorities facing depopulation over the 25 years to 2039.

The most recent population estimates from the National Records of Scotland showed a welcome increase in the numbers of people moving to Scotland from the rest of the UK but a worrying decrease in the number coming from overseas.

The economic importance of migration to Scotland cannot be overestimated. Scottish Government analysis submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the role of EEA workers in the UK labour market found that the average EU citizen in Scotland adds £10,400 to government revenue and £34,400 to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year.

In addition to this, new economic modelling in our recently published document Scotland’s population needs and migration policy quantifies the impact that lower migration post Brexit could have on the Scottish economy and found that by 2040, lower migration alone would reduce Scotland’s real GDP by 4.5% - equivalent to a fall of almost £5 billion a year. The reduction across the rest of the UK would be 3.7%, demonstrating the Scottish economy’s greater reliance on migration.

Further, in a ‘worst case scenario’ where migration is reduced to tens of thousands, in line with UK Government policy, the cost to the Scottish economy could be £10 billion per year by 2040 – I hope you agree that scenario would be utterly unacceptable.

There is cross-party consensus that a distinct approach to migration for Scotland is required. Indeed on 22 February this year, the Scottish Parliament backed a motion calling for such an approach. There have also been calls from Westminster including the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration and the Scottish Affairs Committee, as well as from business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses and Scottish Council for Development and Industry for a solution which is tailored to Scotland’s unique circumstances. 

We are already seeing instances where people who are either able to fill particular skills gaps in Scotland or who provide essential services in rural areas have been prevented from coming to Scotland, or faced removal or deportation as a result of targets and criteria that simply do not take account of Scotland’s needs, and where public bodies are facing an increase in the immigration skills charge that inhibits their ability to recruit essential staff from outwith the UK.

I note the commitment that you made yesterday to a fair and humane immigration policy that welcomes and celebrates people who are here legally, people who have come in the past or who are looking to come and who want to do the right thing and contribute to our country. As part of that, I look forward to an early meeting with you to discuss the opportunities and ways in which Scotland’s unique migration needs can be recognised – as set out in Scotland’s population needs and migration policy – alongside the ways in which the immigration white paper could properly reflect Scotland’s position and provide certainty and security to EU citizens, who have made their home here that has been denied to those of the Windrush generation.

In light of the many public statements made repeatedly by the Prime Minister and other UK Government Ministers that they will engage fully with the Devolved Administrations, I look forward to an early meeting.

I am copying this letter to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Minister of State for Immigration, as well as the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Fiona Hyslop


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