Number of EU nationals in Scotland continues to rise

The number of EU nationals choosing to live in Scotland rose significantly last year despite the uncertainty surrounding immigration laws post-Brexit, official figures have revealed.

Lord Kerr. Picture: Greg Macvean
Lord Kerr. Picture: Greg Macvean

Non-British nationals staying north of the Border in 2017 rose by 12 per cent to 378,000, according to the latest figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The number of EU nationals increased by 26,000 to 235,000 in this time, with the number of non-EU nationals increasing by 14,000 to 142,000. A total of 7 per cent of the resident population of Scotland now has non-British nationality.

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Holyrood ministers have long been concerned that if migration to the UK is cut 
post-Brexit, Scotland’s population will drop in the long-term.

Polish remains the most common non-British nationality, with an estimated 99,000 residents accounting for 26 per cent of the total non-British population and 2 per cent of residents in Scotland overall.

The council area with the highest proportion of residents who are non-British nationals was Aberdeen City, with 21 per cent of residents holding non-British nationality.

The figures are based on the Annual Population Survey, which is the largest household survey in the UK other than the census.

Responding to the report, external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “These figures underline the key role inward migration plays in supporting further population growth across Scotland’s communities and rural areas.

“As we face challenges in relation to the recent, welcome increase in life expectancy, migration flows to Scotland help us ensure we can grow our working age population and support our social and economic needs, now and in the future.

“Scotland already benefits significantly from the contribution made by those who have chosen to live, work and study here, bringing new skills and expertise and helping to underpin future economic growth, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure inward migration to our country can continue.

“However, the current UK Government’s hostile immigration policy and unrealistic migration targets are 
detrimental to Scotland’s economic growth and wider wellbeing.

“We have set out the need for the Scottish Parliament to be granted devolved powers on migration.

“This would allow us to continue to grow our country’s economy and tackle current demographic challenges while also creating a more welcoming environment for those migrants.”