EU citizens ‘worth £4.42bn to Scotland’

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The amount added to national output by the average EU citizen working in Scotland is £34,400, according to a new study.

With 128,400 EU citizens employed in Scotland, that implies a value of £4.42bn.

It is estimated that, on average, each additional EU citizen working in Scotland contributes £10,400 to government revenues.

The reckoning has been published in new research from the Scottish government.

It has been submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee, as that body looks into the UK’s future immigration policy post-Brexit.

The report makes the point that Scotland is affected differently from the rest of the UK by a sudden change to immigration. The only way that the population can grow while it ages, claims the Scottish government, is through migration.

Birth rate

Scottish ministers are calling for Scotland to have powers for its own immigration policy, with more open access than the UK government is likely to accept.

The official population forecasts for 2026 show a rise in 107,000 in net overseas migration, and 76,000 from the rest of the UK. That is while natural change – more deaths than births – will cut 8,000 from the Scottish population.

In England, much of its population growth will be from births to parents already in Britain.

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The new analysis from Edinburgh covers the sectors likely to be most affected when there is an end to free movement of EU nationals into Scotland.

The UK government is understood to have drawn up its own impact assessments of how Brexit could affect different economic sectors. Despite political pressure, it has refused to publish them, saying that would undermine the British negotiating position.

The most affected sector in Scotland would be tourism, where more than 9% of workers (17,000) are EU citizens. That does not include those living in hotels’ accommodation for staff, which may push the figure significantly higher.

Creative industries

While Brexit is expected to force employers to look to UK recruits to fill vacancies left when there are fewer EU citizens available, six in 10 members of the British Hospitality Association reported a lack of applications from UK citizens or lack of interest by the local population.

In creative industries, the Scottish government report cited 11,000 EU citizens working in Scotland, including 35% of Scottish Ballet and 21% of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

In 2014, the Creative Skillset Workforce Survey found more than half of those responding from the Scottish creative industries had found skill shortages – a higher share than the UK as a whole.

One in twenty EU nationals working in Scotland are in food processing, representing quarter of all its employees.

The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers reports 52% of its unskilled workforce is from outside the UK, and 44% of the skilled workforce.

In seafood, 58% of the workforce in large processors are non-UK European nationals.

In Grampian, it is estimated that seven in 10 of all staff in seafood processing are EU nationals.

The report includes information about seasonal farm work, including the berry fields.

A survey carried out last July by the Association of Labour Providers found 30% of respondents did not expect to be able to source and supply sufficient workers for the peak summer season, with 45% expecting the same for the peak of the Christmas season. The survey, from across Britain, reported half expected that position would be worse next year.

Care workers

In the care sector, the Scottish government points to the Camphill communities for those with learning difficulties. Of 251 short term co-workers last November, 170, were EU nationals, and 76 were from beyond the EU. Only 5 were UK citizens.

In the health service, the dependence is not as great as many other areas of the UK. And despite Scotland’s strength as a training centre for clinical skills, there is a claim from the Scottish government that “we will not reach a position where we are able to recruit all of the clinically regulated workforce that we need from within the UK. On any analysis it is anticipated that we will always need to recruit internationally from the EU and beyond”.

Among NHS clinicians, 9.4% of the UK total are from the EU, and 5.7% in Scotland That means 1140 graduates with a licence to practice.

The Royal College of Nursing notes that since the referendum, there’s been a 96% drop in the number of nurses from other EU countries registering to practice in the UK.

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Some 6% of the Scottish care workforce is made up of EU citizens and 6% from other countries,

According to Alasdair Allan, Scottish minister for Europe: “The Scottish government believes that continuing free movement of people is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK as a whole. We do not believe that a restrictive model which limits free movement is in Scotland’s or the UK’s interests.

“For migration from outside the EU, it is clear that a one-size fits all approach does not meet Scotland’s needs.

“There is a clear case for a differentiated migration system that recognises the different needs across the UK.”

He cited support for different immigration powers also coming from a Westminster all-party parliamentary group, and its Scottish Affairs Committee. Former Chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign, Lord Darling, said the issue should be looked at.

The UK government has said that ending free movement of EU nationals into Britain is a key part of the Brexit process, but that it will tailor policy to ensure that business still has access to the skilled workers it needs.

With 3 million EU nationals living in the UK already, they will be allowed to apply for ‘settled status’, but the rules for that are not clear while Brexit negotiations continue.

EU citizens ‘worth £4.42bn to Scotland’}

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