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

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - 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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