Plum­met­ing birth rate en­dan­ger­ing ed­u­ca­tion and health.

De­cline: Warn­ing that ed­u­ca­tion and health could be badly hit in future

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Na­dia vidi­nova

The future of Tay­side and Fife’s health and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems is said to be “un­der threat” after fig­ures revealed the re­gion’s birth rates have plum­meted over the past two decades.

Birth rates have fallen by an av­er­age of 12% in Dundee, An­gus, Perth and Kin­ross and Fife since 1996.

The largest de­crease was in Dundee (-13.6%), closely fol­lowed by An­gus (-13.5%).

In Perth and Kin­ross, the change was -12.7% and in Fife it was -9.5%.

Wil­lie Ren­nie, MSP for North East Fife and leader of Scot­tish Lib­eral Democrats said im­mi­gra­tion should be en­cour­aged to plug the gap, de­spite Brexit.

He ex­plained: “The plung­ing birth rate means the sus­tain­abil­ity of our so­ci­ety is un­der threat. If we don’t have suf­fi­cient peo­ple work­ing and pay­ing taxes we won’t have suf­fi­cient funds for our NHS and ed­u­ca­tion.

“We also need enough ed­u­cated and trained peo­ple to run our pub­lic ser­vices. That’s why I called for the true eco­nomic value of im­mi­gra­tion to be recog­nised.

“Rather than pulling up the im­mi­gra­tion draw­bridge we should be en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple to live and work here.”

Dundee coun­cil leader John Alexander said the city’s future looked “pos­i­tive” and the over­all pop­u­la­tion was ex­pected to in­crease de­spite the de­clin­ing birth rate.

“We con­tinue to pro­ject an in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion with an ex­pec­ta­tion that the city will grow by 5.9% by 2039,” Mr Alexander said.

“Birth rates are one part of the equa­tion and as we all know, rates across the coun­try and in­deed in many western coun­tries are de­clin­ing.

“How­ever, there are also in­ter­nal move­ments, with peo­ple com­ing from other ar­eas of the UK and im­mi­gra­tion from far­ther afield.

“We have an in­creas­ingly older pop­u­la­tion which by its very na­ture re­quires more money for health, so­cial care and pen­sions. To ad­dress that we need to build up our work­ing age pop­u­la­tion.”

He added: “Brexit is a real headache on the hori­zon for a num­ber of rea­sons. Key sec­tors such as care, hos­pi­tal­ity, tourism or even the NHS are sup­ported by an in­ward flow of work­ing age Euro­pean na­tion­als who work, set up home and con­trib­ute back into the pub­lic purse.

“What­ever your view on Brexit, it is a reality that there is the po­ten­tial at least in the shorter to medium-term for a detri­men­tal im­pact on our work­ing age pop­u­la­tion.”

MP for An­gus Kirstene Hair said: “Over the past 45 years, Scot­land’s pop­u­la­tion has been slowly fall­ing.

“This re­duces the num­ber of peo­ple of work­ing age and in a place like An­gus, which has a lower birth rate than other more pop­u­lous ar­eas, this is of con­cern.

“We have al­ready seen the im­pact here of a de­clin­ing work­force on soft fruits, a ma­jor in­dus­try in my con­stituency.

“I have cam­paigned for a fair and ef­fec­tive per­mit sys­tem for mi­grant work­ers to come and work in the United King­dom, which has a mas­sive ben­e­fit to the econ­omy.

“The UK Gov­ern­ment has given the SNP the tools it needs to make Scot­land a com­pelling place to live and work.

“But the SNP Gov­ern­ment’s plans to tax hard-work­ing mid­dle earn­ers mean this trend may never be re­versed.”

nvidi­nova@the­courier.co.uk

“If we don’t have suf­fi­cient peo­ple pay­ing taxes we won’t have suf­fi­cient funds for our NHS and ed­u­ca­tion

Pic­ture: Kim Cess­ford.

Birth rates are de­clin­ing right across Courier Coun­try, lead­ing to wor­ries for the future.

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