The Home Office has been accused of ignoring Scotland’s need for migrant workers after a bespoke immigration plan for northern England was proposed by Priti Patel.
The SNP said that the plans, which would see migrants seeking to come to the United Kingdom after Brexit given extra points if they agreed to move to the north of England rather than London and the southeast, did not take Scotland into account.
It is understood that the home secretary is considering taking steps to ensure that skilled immigrants are spread around the country, however the proposed plans do not appear to show that similar incentives would be extended to Scotland.
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Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s immigration spokesman, said: “The indication by the UK government that there can be variation in the immigration system for different parts of the UK flies in the face of its approach up until now of dismissing Scotland’s unique immigration needs. If this is a change of approach it is welcome, although long overdue.
"Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and of course Australia all allow for different rules in different parts of the state and there is no reason why the UK government shouldn’t do likewise. Scotland must be able to implement its own immigration policy, tailored to best suit its social and economic interests.”
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Studies suggest that Scotland’s falling birthrate will damage economic growth and worsen skill shortages if people cannot be recruited from overseas, with the population growth rate predicted to be significantly lower rate than the projected growth for countries around Europe of a similar size.
Coupled with the population also ageing at a faster rate than the rest of the UK, academics have warned that it could have "serious implications for key sectors and the economy at large".
A Home Office spokesman did confirm that plans for a new points-based immigration system for introduction in 2021 are being considered but declined to comment directly on Scotland’s position.