Stur­geon urg­ing re­think on fee for EU work­ers

First Minister hits out at West­min­ster stance on charge

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS | POLITICS - KATRINE BUSSEY Pic­ture: PA.

The UK Gov­ern­ment will not al­low Holy­rood min­is­ters to pay £65 set­tled sta­tus fees for Euro­pean cit­i­zens who are work­ing in Scot­land’s pub­lic ser­vices, Ni­cola Stur­geon said.

The First Minister has al­ready promised her gov­ern­ment would pick up the cost for NHS staff and other pub­lic-sec­tor work­ers who have come to live in Scot­land from other parts of the Euro­pean Union.

But she told the Health and So­cial Care Scot­land con­fer­ence in Glas­gow the “UK Gov­ern­ment will not al­low third-party pay­ments, thereby forc­ing EU cit­i­zens to pay it up­front”.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will seek to re­im­burse these peo­ple after­wards.

There are around 13,000 cit­i­zens from other EU nations work­ing in health and so­cial care in Scot­land, mak­ing up 3.5% of the sec­tor’s over­all work­force.

In so­cial care alone, some 7.3% of all reg­is­tered nurses and 5.5% of all staff come from other Euro­pean nations.

Ms Stur­geon said the “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” the UK Gov­ern­ment has cre­ated for mi­grants has al­ready re­sulted in a fall in nurses from Europe ap­ply­ing to work in Scot­land.

She urged politi­cians in West­min­ster to ditch the “un­ac­cept­able” set­tled sta­tus fee and in­stead “value the doc­tors, nurses and car­ers work­ing day in, day out to pro­vide care in our times of need”.

The first minister said: “It is un­ac­cept­able that the UK Gov­ern­ment in­sists on charg­ing EU cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing chil­dren, a fee to ap­ply for a sta­tus they are al­ready en­ti­tled to.”

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to pay­ing the fee for EU cit­i­zens work­ing in our de­volved pub­lic ser­vices.

“How­ever, the UK Gov­ern­ment will not al­low third-party pay­ments, thereby forc­ing EU cit­i­zens to pay it up-front.”

Ms Stur­geon added: “EU cit­i­zens work­ing in our pub­lic ser­vices are cru­cial to their suc­cess­ful de­liv­ery.

“It is of great con­cern that the more bar­ri­ers the UK Gov­ern­ment places on en­abling peo­ple to stay in the UK, the more peo­ple could be forced to leave.

“In Scot­land we are al­ready see­ing a drop in ap­pli­ca­tions from nurses from across the EU, and that is hardly sur­pris­ing given the hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment be­ing cre­ated by UK Gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

“The UK Gov­ern­ment has con­sis­tently failed to de­liver a suit­able mi­gra­tion pol­icy for Scot­land,” she added.

First Minister Ni­cola Stur­geon said EU cit­i­zens are cru­cial to the de­liv­ery of pub­lic ser­vices.

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