‘Scotland should be exempt from immigration target’

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A think tank has called for Scotland to be excluded from UK immigration targets following the relaxation of rules for NHS staff.

Reform Scotland said the Home Office decision to exclude non-EU doctors and nurses from the cap on skilled migration could be extended to Scotland.

Reform Scotland said the Home Office decision to exclude non-EU doctors and nurses from the cap on skilled migration could be extended to Scotland. Picture Ian Rutherford

Reform Scotland said the Home Office decision to exclude non-EU doctors and nurses from the cap on skilled migration could be extended to Scotland. Picture Ian Rutherford

The organisation said it was a “simple fact” that Scotland needs more immigration, highlighting the low fertility rate and ageing population.

It pointed out that previous initiatives such as the Fresh Talent scheme had considered the immigration situation in Scotland differently to the rest of the UK.

Director Chris Deerin said: “It is an unavoidable truth that Scotland needs immigration.

“Our old-age dependency rate is growing, and will grow at an even faster rate in the years ahead. We need more working-age people to pay the taxes that fund our public services and support our society.

“We need to attract people to come and live and work in Scotland. We need to attract families. And we need policies that will encourage that immigration.

“The UK Government’s decision to create an exemption for NHS workers shows that the mechanism is there to do the same for Scotland.

“This is not a constitutional issue, nor a party-political one.

“Creating the conditions for more immigration to Scotland does not require devolution of immigration to the Scottish Parliament - it simply requires an acknowledgement from the UK Government that Scotland has a more acute requirement than the rest of the UK.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We have been clear from the start that the devolved administrations should be fully engaged in the exit process.

“We are seeking a deal that works for the entire United Kingdom, for Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and all parts of England.

“We are developing from scratch a new digital, streamlined, user-friendly scheme for EU citizens to safeguard their right to stay in the UK after we leave the EU.

“We are working closely with EU citizens as part of its development.”