News

Warning over UK Government plans for Australian-style immigration system

Published: 23 Dec 2019 00:01
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Calls for tailored migration policies to support Scottish repopulation.

The introduction of any Australian-style points-based immigration system in the UK must recognise Scotland’s unique needs, the Scottish Government has said.

The call comes in the Scottish Government’s official response to a call for evidence from the UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which is evaluating a points-based immigration system.

While Scotland’s population is at a record high of 5.4 million, the increase is solely down to migration because the number of deaths exceed births.

And all of Scotland's population growth for the next 25 years is projected to come from migration - in contrast to the rest of the UK where demographic pressures are less pronounced.

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“The evidence clearly illustrates Scotland’s demographic challenges where the age structure of our population is more imbalanced than in the rest of the UK. The number of people in Scotland who are living longer is growing, which is of course a good thing, but we also need to grow our working age population and that requires inward migration.

“If left unchecked, our demographic challenges will have a serious impact on communities and will increase the risk of skills gaps and labour shortages in key sectors. The impact of Brexit will only exacerbate these challenges as it will be harder for people in the EU to come and work in Scotland.

"Demographic pressures require a different policy response in Scotland to ensure we have an immigration system that enables our economy and our public services to recruit the individuals they need, allows our communities to prosper and is fair and transparent to individuals and employers.

“Any move by the UK Government to create an Australian-style points based immigration system must include a commitment to a tailored approach to migration policy for Scotland."

Mr Macpherson added:

"The Australian immigration system delivers tailored migration policies for different parts of Australia. Similarly, Scotland requires new means and powers to be able to attract, recruit and welcome people to our country based on our needs, values and aspirations.”

Background

The Scottish Government response, available here, also warns against the introduction of any salary threshold to restrict migration and calls for more time to develop detailed plans.

The response concludes: “Given the importance of this issue we would encourage the UK Government and the MAC to extend the consultation period and undertake a full programme of engagement and consultation focusing on developing an immigration system which meets the needs of all parts of the UK, including Scotland.”

Official figures published in October project the working age population in Scotland is set to fall by 7,000 by mid-2043.