An independent Scotland would encourage more skilled immigrants: Salmond

by Ray Clancy on June 2, 2014

While the UK as a whole had pledged to reduce the number of people arriving to live and work in the country as a whole, Scotland is encouraging immigration.

If Scotland becomes independent after the referendum on its future, which takes place in September, it would need to attract an extra 24,000 people per year to meet the Scottish government’s economic targets, according to First Minister Alex Salmond.

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Scotland would need to attract an extra 24,000 peoplea year to meet the government’s economic targets

For the first time yesterday the Scottish government has put a figure on the level of net immigration, the difference between the number of people settling in the country and those leaving, that would be required to boost tax revenues and maintain public spending in the years to 2030.

Policies to boost immigration were previously published in the Scottish Government’s independence White Paper. If Scots vote ‘Yes’ in September, ministers plan to introduce an Australian style points based system to make it easier for skilled workers to move to Scotland.

They would also encourage overseas students to work in Scotland by providing special visas, and believe many expat Scots would be tempted to return as a result of independence.

Yesterday, Mr. Salmond sought to play down the scale of immigration required to boost tax revenues and offset a projected fall in the working-age population over the next two decades. He said the figure of 24,000 was only 2,000 higher than average annual net immigration between 2001 and 2011.

‘I think to increase the working-age population through net migration of 2000 additional people a year compared to experience of the past 10 years is an entirely reasonable prospective, and is very realistic to achieve,’ said Salmond.

Immigration has become a political hot potato in the UK after the UK Independence Party won considerable gains in the recent European elections. UKIP is known for its anti-immigration stance.

At the same time, Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed that the target is to cut net migration to the UK to below 100,000. However, the latest figures show that 212,000 more people moved to live in the UK than left.

She has now outlined plans to cut down on immigration from within the European Union, adding that if you excluded immigration from the EU, the migration figures were back down to 1990s levels.

She pointed out that changes already coming in would mean EU migrants would have to be in the UK for three months before being able to claim benefits.  Ministers are also looking at cutting the length of time migrants could claim benefits from six months to three months.

 

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