Independent Scotland ‘will need ½m migrants’

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would face a surge in immigration, with the equivalent of Edinburgh’s population added to the country, the UK government will warn in analysis on the consequences of a Yes vote.

Scotlandm might have to adopt a different kind of immigration enforcement. Picture: TS
Scotlandm might have to adopt a different kind of immigration enforcement. Picture: TS

Scotland needs almost 500,000 migrants over the next 20 years to achieve the same balance of pensioners and working-age adults as the UK, the Treasury will claim next week.

The increase would be the equivalent of adding another Edinburgh to Scotland’s population, the UK governmentdepartment said.

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Scotland’s ageing population and the implications for levels of migration are considered in Treasury analysis of an independent Scotland between 2016, the first year of independence, and 2035-36.

Scotland’s population is projected to age more rapidly than the UK as a whole, according to the analysis to be launched by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

The Treasury has considered the levels of net annual immigration which would be required in an independent Scotland in order for it to achieve a “dependency ratio” equivalent to that projected for the UK over the next two decades.

The ratio is the number of people who are predominantly receiving from the state – pensioners – versus the number of people who are paying most of the taxes – working-age adults.

Using Office for National Statistics data, net annual migration to Scotland of 7,000 is assumed but this would have to increase to 24,000 under independence to achieve the same dependency ratio, the Treasury said.

“Over the 20-year period that we looked at that would basically be the equivalent of adding the population of Edinburgh.

“So that would be a very substantial change in demographics needed simply to keep this dependency ratio online.

“All of this challenge is simply smoothed away within the Union and borne across the population as a whole.”

The Scottish Government has already indicated in its white paper on independence that it plans to adopt different immigration policies to those of the UK to meet Scotland’s needs, including boosting its working-age population.

A spokesman for finance secretary John Swinney said: “Net migration to Scotland is already more than 10,000 a year, and independence will allow us to have a flexible policy to suit our economic needs, unlike UK immigration policy which is harming Scotland.

“It is deeply revealing, but not surprising, that the Treasury’s main attack on independence plays the immigration card, as the Westminster establishment panders to a Ukip agenda.”