'Scotland needs you', McConnell says to new EU migrants
• Scotland will advertise for 13,000 East European migrant workers who will be granted right to live in UK from May 1st
• Scotland to lose 136,000 working age people by 2003 while pensioners to rise by 151,000
• Blunkett rejects separate accession worker scheme for Scotland
• UK and Ireland only older EU members to allow accession workers to work without permits
• New rules on migration allow benefit claims only from those working
Story in full SCOTLAND is to advertise for Eastern European workers after being denied any legislative powers to help secure a greater share of migrants who will be granted an automatic right to live in the UK on 1 May.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has decided against a scheme which would make it easier for Poles and Czechs to secure a job in Scotland - rather than in London and the south-east of England.
He will instead back plans by Jack McConnell, the First Minister, to advertise Scotland to the 13,000 workers expected to arrive in the UK from the ten accession countries - through various initiatives to be announced to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.
The new UK migration rules will, as disclosed in The Scotsman last week, allow members of the expanded EU the right to enter Britain and seek work. Only those with a job can claim health and education benefits.
Instead of a work permit - a system which would have allowed ministers to decide to direct migrants to Scotland rather than London - new workers will simply be required to register with officials. No permission will be needed.
Work Permits UK, the only government agency with the powers to steer would-be workers towards parts of the UK where they are most needed, will have no authority over workers from the ten accession countries.
Mr McConnell has held talks with Mr Blunkett laying out Scotland’s special migration needs. While asylum policy is not devolved, he has stressed that Scotland is the only country in Europe where population is declining and has an urgent need for new blood.
But Mr Blunkett’s proposed registration system - which will be loosely policed - means Scotland’s only tool is to make a direct pitch at migrant workers and persuade them to come north of the Border. There are no powers to offer enhanced welfare packages.
The First Minister yesterday admitted that Scotland needs "a few thousand" migrants to counter the loss of 136,000 working-age people in Scotland expected by 2023 - and an expected rise of 151,000 pensioners.
Mr Blunkett’s announcement, he said, will provide a "platform upon which the special measures we have agreed for Scotland can be announced" and "improve the provision of work permits".
The Scotsman understands that Mr Blunkett has expressed regret that his decision not to use the work-permit system for the new EU members will not be able to help Mr McConnell. He has instead promised greater co-operation over non-EU countries by means of compensation.
This will force Mr McConnell to cast his net wider - looking at central European states such as Bulgaria and Romania. But they are due to join the EU in 2007, and be freed from any obligation to work in any specific part of the UK.
The First Minister will instead be offered preferred access to workers who must still use Work Permits UK. Its main client countries include China, Pakistan, Iran and north-African countries.
Britain and Ireland will be the only countries in the EU to allow accession-country members to work without a formal permit. Mr Blair had promised blanket welfare provision as well, but started to rethink this policy in October.
The new policy will deny welfare to any workers from the EU accession states who have not found work.
Jobseekers’ allowance and income support will only be available to those who have held UK jobs for a year.
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