EU workers '˜worth £7.3 billion to the Scottish economy'

EU workers contribute £7.3 billion to Scotland's economy and there are fears over the impact of Brexit on the country's flagship tourism and finance industries, MSPs have been warned.

Prime Minister Theresa May holds a Joint Ministerial Council meeting in Downing Street. Picture; Stefan Rousseau

Edinburgh’s reliance on financial services is greater than any other city in Europe, a report for Holyrood’s economy committee says, prompting concerns over “lost jobs and business” from any loss of full access to the key EU market.

The Scottish Government said it showed EU workers make a “significant economic contribution” and underlines the case for protecting the country’s EU status.

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Leading economists will give evidence before MSPs tomorrow on the impact of Brexit and the potential impact on Scotland’s fragile growth has been set out in a report by 4-consulting.

Around one in 20 people in Scotland’s 2.6 million-strong workforce are from other EU countries and there are growing concerns because the UK government has failed to guarantee their right to stay after Brexit.

“EU workers in Scotland are paid a higher average hourly pay than any other part of the UK outside of London,” according to economist and Scottish Government advisor Richard Marsh in a submission to MSPs from 4-consulting. “This may point to EU workers engaged in higher value added activities in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.”

Scotland’s financial services industry employs up to 180,000 people directly and indirectly, including about 20,000 EU workers.

It contributes £8bn to the economy. It comprises some of the country’s biggest firms including Standard Life, RBS, Aberdeen Asset and Management and the Alliance Trust.

The report sets out the critical importance of the industry in stark terms.

“Edinburgh’s economy is more reliant on financial services than the London economy or any UK city economy,” it states.

“Edinburgh’s share of financial services is markedly ahead of most large European cities.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have made clear to people from other EU countries who are currently living and working in Scotland that their contribution is valued and they are welcome here.

“We will continue to press for guarantees that EU nationals living and working in Scotland can stay here should the UK government impose Brexit against the wishes of the people of Scotland.”

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