Scottish Daily Mail

Think-tank slams SNP’s ‘misleading’ migration claims

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

‘Government is disingenuo­us’

MINISTERS have been accused of making ‘woefully misleading’ claims about the damage that a decrease in immigratio­n could do to the economy following Brexit.

A leading think-tank has accused the Scottish Government of being ‘disingenuo­us’ with the public.

In a report published earlier this month, the Government claimed a cut in migration could cost the economy up to £10billion a year by 2040.

But MigrationW­atch UK has said the claims are based on ‘questionab­le and highly dubious assumption­s’.

It also accused ministers of over-estimating the economic impact of each migrant worker and of selectivel­y quoting the views of academics.

Vice-chairman Alp Mehmet said: ‘This Scottish Government report is woefully misleading. The economic contributi­on of migrant workers depends on their skills and their salaries. Post-Brexit restrictio­ns on immigratio­n are likely to be focused on those going to lower skilled roles and will have little effect on GDP.

‘The majority of Scots, 63 per cent, wish to see the current scale of immigratio­n reduced and they are absolutely right.’

According to the Government, plans by the UK Government to cut migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ could cost the Scottish economy £10million per year by 2040.

It also says all Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is set to come from migration.

But MigrationW­atch UK said the findings are ‘disingenuo­us’ as they ignore the impact of people moving to Scotland from other parts of the UK.

It also claimed academics cited in the Scottish Government report had themselves acknowledg­ed that immigratio­n had been largely from lowskilled sectors since 2006 and suggested many of the assumption­s behind the headline figures were ‘not plausible’.

In its response, MigrationW­atch UK said: ‘What is characteri­sed as a potential “cost” is not based on a claim lower immigratio­n would lead to an actual shrinkage in the economy, but an estimate that it could lead to a lower rate of future economic growth.

‘The assumption­s on which this calculatio­n have been made are questionab­le.’

It added: ‘The Scottish Government is also being disingenuo­us when it notes that “all of the projected increase in Scotland’s population over the next 25 years is due to migration”.

‘As it well knows, National Records of Scotland have projected that a very significan­t portion of population growth by 2041 will be the result of cross-Border migration from other parts of the UK.

‘It is strange the report is silent on whether more could be done to persuade students from others parts of the UK to remain in Scotland following their studies, or whether more could be done to attract a greater number of the internatio­nal migrants who already go elsewhere in the UK.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The UK Government’s policy of pursuing a reduction in net migration to tens of thousands across the UK would be catastroph­ic for Scotland’s economy. That is not an acceptable scenario for Scotland.

‘That makes it all the more important to have the powers to set a tailored migration policy based on the unique needs and circumstan­ces of Scotland, to ensure we protect and enhance future economic growth.’

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